ASHA Workers’ and Facilitators’ Federation of India (AWFFI) Formed
AMIDST applause and slogans by ASHA workers from 17 states and union territories, the first ever federation of ASHA workers- the ASHA Workers and Facilitators Federation of India, (AWFFI) is formed after three days long deliberations and discussions from September 16-18, 2022, at Kurukshetra, Haryana. The conference gave a call for protest throughout the country on December 10, 2022, ‘world human rights day’, against the violation of the human rights of the ASHA workers by the BJP government.
The all-India coordination committee of ASHA workers was formed in 2009, at the initiative of CITU. It has developed the movement of ASHA workers in the country and expanded to 20 states. The dedicated work of the ASHA workers and the militant movement especially during the Covid-19 pandemic has brought them the status of ‘global leaders’ not only for fighting the pandemic as awarded by WHO but also for fighting for their rights as workers with many achievements through struggles. AICCAW(CITU) decided to form an all-India federation to further consolidate and expand the organisation as well as intensify the struggles.
Haryana one of the most militant and consolidated unions of ASHA workers in the country took up the responsibility of holding the conference. More than 13,000 members of the union with the help of the Haryana state CITU collected the money required for the expenditure from among its members as well as from the beneficiaries, taking the message of the conference to the people.
The conference venue was named after Comrade Ranjana Nirula, the founder and convenor of the all India coordination committee of ASHA workers. The stage was named after Tehmina, the ASHA worker from Kashmir who died while participating in the all-India general strike and Usha the state office bearer of the ASHA union Haryana who died in a road accident.
The conference began with the hoisting of the CITU flag by Parvesh, vice president of Haryana state ASHA workers’ union.
The inaugural session, which was attended by the ASHA workers from the district, in addition to the delegates, was presided over by Surekha, president of the Haryana state CITU as well as the Haryana state ASHA workers’ union. O P Lathwal, former director, of health services, Haryana, chairperson of the reception committee welcomed the delegates. He said that the ASHA workers’ movement demanding health for all must also cover the demands regarding the social determinants of health such as food security, safe drinking water and sanitation.
K Hemalata, president CITU inaugurated the conference. She explained the anti-people policies of the ruling classes which are only aiming for corporate profit and how it is affecting the health policy. She called upon the ASHA workers to intensify the struggles for their rights. She reminded the delegates about their crucial role in the trade union movement being the community activists in reaching out to the people mobilising every section in the fight against these neoliberal policies. She also reminded us about the necessity of fighting the communal threat against the unity of the working people.
The session was addressed by Jagmati Sangwan, vice president, AIDWA, Subhash Lamba, president and Satish Sethi, joint secretary, all India state government employees association, Jaibhagwan, general secretary state CITU, and R S Dahiya from Jan Swasthya Abhiyan.
A resolution against the privatisation of health services was placed by Amitava Guha, secretary, CITU and member of AICCAW and was adopted unanimously.
The delegate session started with the election of various committees. The presidium consisted of Prema(Kerala), Dhanalakshmi (AP), Sunita (Haryana), Anandi (Maharashtra), Noni Lilison Phukan (Assam) and Dilshada (J&K).
The condolence resolution was placed by V V Presannakumari. The report was presented in three parts – policies and the movement by Surekha, organisation by Madhumita and future movements and Tasks by A R Sindhu. The draft constitution was placed by Veena Gupta.
A total of 37 delegates took part in the discussions. The delegates narrated their experiences of struggles and achievements as well as the severe repression of the activists. They also suggested amendments to the draft constitution and charter of demands.
After the reply by Madhumita Bannerjee, the report was unanimously adopted.
The conference also adopted the constitution of the federation.
The conference also adopted two resolutions – against communalism and protection for human rights and freedom of expression.
The credentials report was placed by Sudha. There were 285 delegates and observers including 10 male delegates from AP, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, J&K, Kerala, MP, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Pondicherry, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tripura, UP, Uttarakhand and West Bengal attended the conference. Twenty-six ASHA facilitators and 32 organisers also attended the conference 25 per cent of the delegates have a service more than 15 years as ASHA workers.
The conference elected 45 member committee with P P Prema as president, Madhumita Bennrejee as general secretary and Pushpa Patil as treasurer.
The concluding address was given by A R Sindhu, secretary, CITU. She called upon the delegates to take the message of the conference to each and every ASHA worker in the country.
The members of the reception committee as well as the volunteers were facilitated.
The conference adopted the following tasks:
· All India convention of scheme workers on October 19, 2022, at New Delhi to declare the future course of joint struggles.
· All India protest day against the neglect of ASHA workers’ issues on December 10, 2022, human rights day.
· ‘Javab mango abhiyan’ in all parliamentary constituencies in December 2022 – January 2023 to culminate in all India protests of scheme workers.
· Massive campaign on unpaid care work and massive mobilisation under the banner of AICCWW(CITU) on international working women’s day, March 8, 2023.
· Massive campaign and maximum mobilisation in the mazdoor kisan sangharsh rally by CITU, AIKS and AIAWU in the budget session of Parliament.