Autumn is giving way to winter, but the political environment is getting warmer in the country, expected to get hotter in the coming days. Nevertheless, while opposition parties taking to the streets were predictable, what the government did not expect was a sit-in by thousands of its own employees from all over the country. The sit-in staged against what the union leaders call anti-employee policies of the government must open the eyes of the state.

All unions and departments besides the Lady Health Workers (LHW) left after their delegation met the adviser to the Prime Minister (PM) on finance for talks. It is yet to be seen if the government can fulfil the demands of the protesters or not. LHWs and their children have dug in their heels however, and it is hoped that the government responds positively.

Their steadfastness in the narrative for the state to accept their 10-point agenda of demands is necessary. LHWs form the vanguard in the country’s fight against malnourishment and efforts to improve national health. Their presence in rural areas is crucial to the wellbeing and health of both women and children.

The fact that the family health workers are underpaid while exposing themselves to mortal danger while carrying out their duties makes it exigent for the government to resolve their issues. Asking for better salaries and restoring the National Programme of Family Planning are demands that are beneficial for the system and the ability of the LHWs to carry out their responsibilities more effectively.

This is not the first time the LHW have called for better treatment either. In the wake of 2012 protests by the LHW, the Supreme Court’s call to make them permanent has yet to be fulfilled. These are the two key demands of the LHWs; they have the backing of the SC on these two points as well. If nothing else, the government should hold negotiations with them.