BEST Strike: 3,800 Buses Off Mumbai Roads
The BEST bus strike coinciding with Raksha Bandhan is sure to put crores of Mumbaikars in a lot of inconvenience. They are fighting the administration over irregular salary payment.
Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) workers have successfully taken off over 3,800 buses from the roads of Mumbai on Monday. The bus strike coinciding with Raksha Bandhan is sure to put lakhs of locals here in a lot of inconvenience.
The workers union and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have been at loggerheads for the past few days over irregular payment issues. BEST has a total of 35,000 workers in the transport section.
The BEST operates around 3,800 buses on 483 routes, ferrying over 30 lakh passengers every day. Its transport wing is facing daily losses of over Rs 2 crore.
BEST employees’ union leader Shashank Rao, who claims to have the support of 16,500 workers had said on Sunday, "We wanted a written assurance from the BMC administration but they did not give it. Now, we have decided not to report to duty from Sunday midnight."
According to the protesting workers, barring a few exceptions, all employees are expected to not work on Monday.
While the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has decided to run extra buses on Monday, autorickshaw and taxi unions have also been asked by the transport department to help commuters.
The Maharashtra government has warned of invoking Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA), 2011 against the employees who go on strike.
"We want a solution and it lies with the BMC, which says BEST employees are its own. BEST employees should get all the facilities that a BMC employee gets. We want a letter from the civic commissioner admitting that BEST is very much part of BMC," Rao said.
The union had already announced that it would go on strike from Monday, which prompted the civic administration to hold an urgent meeting on Sunday and hold talks with the various unions of BEST.
Terming the strike as "unfortunate", BEST committee chairman Anil Kokil appealed to the workers to resume duty.
"It is unfortunate that our workers have gone on strike on Raksha Bandhan. They must think of the inconvenience caused to the commuters and realise that the BEST administration has assured them to pay the salaries on 10th of every month," Kokil told PTI
Nine unions of the BEST formed an action committee to hold talks with the administration.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis also tried to resolve the matter on Sunday afternoon and failed. The last meeting with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray also failed to satisfy the union and it has decided to go ahead with the strike.
BEST general manager Surendrakumar Bagade said, "We have agreed to make payment to our employees before August 10. BEST will pay the salary by 10th of every month. We have taken this decision irrespective of the financial crisis BEST is facing."
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