While the debt-ridden BEST undertaking is heavily burdened by losses of Rs3,300 crore accumulated over 10 years, the employees’ unions have been demanding Rs20,000 as Diwali bonus for its 42,000 employees.
If granted, it will add to the financial burden of the undertaking, which will then be recovered by increasing power tariffs or bus fares. The unions have threatened to disrupt BEST services if there is no bonus.
“The commuters stand to lose on all counts as they are constantly under pressure of either losing transport services or facing an increase in fares and tariffs. To rescue BEST from its debt, fares have to be increased and if ex-gratia is given to workers, the burden will be passed on to commuters,” said Sunil Mone, consumer activist.
“The government should take a strong stand on the ex-gratia amount paid to BMC workers during Diwali.” In the fiscal year 2011-12, the loss incurred by the undertaking was Rs847.76 crore, including Rs397.76 crore by the transport wing and Rs456.03 crore by the power supply wing.
“The employees are demanding a bonus as it has been given to them since 1970. If it is not given, agitated workers will take some major action and the general manager will be responsible for it,” said Sharad Rao, president of BEST workers union.
Both the BEST workers union and the BEST Kamgar Sena have jointly announced an agitation next week if the bonus proposal is not tabled before the committee by November 6.
“In 2012-13, in the proposed financial budget, a Rs10 crore provision was made for a bonus, but in the revised budget it has been removed,” said Sunil Ganacharya, BEST committee member and General Secretary of BEST Kamgar Sena.