In a major relief to the poorly paid community health volunteers (CHVs), the state labour commissioner’s office has ordered the BMC to pay them as per the minimum wages Act of Maharashtra.
Around 4,000 CHV workers associated with BMC were paid a measly Rs 5,000 per month, which was recently increased to Rs 9,000 following protests. Once the order, dated September 7, is implemented, the CHVs can expect to be paid upward of Rs 15,000 per month.
The order also directed the BMC to pay Rs 32.87 crore as arrears from 2015 to 2016 within 15 days of the notice. The labour commissioner’s office has agreed that the current amount paid to them is less than the minimum wages.
The around 4,000 CHVs working with BMC in over 200 health posts play a crucial role in implementing health schemes in slums and residential complexes. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, they have been tasked with contact tracing, quarantining infected patients and following up with them.
They fall under ‘Local Body (other than village panchayat)’ scheduled category of notification of Minimum Wages Act, which was issued on February 26, 2015 by the state government.
The Mahapalika Arogya Seva Karmchari Sangathna (MASKS), a trade union body that had filed a claim before labour commissioner’s office in 2016, said that it is much needed relief. “The BMC has been asked to pay Rs 33 crore as penalty for not implementing the Act. Also, as per our calculations, Rs 100 crore as arrears from mid of 2016 to 2020 should be paid to these CHVs. We are very happy with the order as these health workers are getting what they deserve,” said Prakash Devdas of MASKS.
“Now, we will try to resolve pension and provident fund issues,” he added.
When contacted, BMC Executive Health Officer Dr Mangala Gomare said that she is not aware of the order and will have to check.
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