Even as union leader Sharad Rao on Sunday threatened to hold the entire city to ransom by bringing civic and transport services to a halt from midnight on Monday, activists and other union leaders lambasted Rao for his bullying tactics.
Rao declared a three-day long strike that would involve BEST workers and autorickshaw drivers. This will severely affect civic amenities such as road repairs, sanitation services, sewage system and hospitals, apart from civic bus and three-wheeler services in the city and suburbs.
The Municipal Mazdoor Union, BEST workers’ union and Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s union — all headed by Rao — will be participating in this agitation.
Their demands include hike in fares, bonuses and clearance of past arrears for municipal and BEST workers. The agitation could affect over 40-lakh BEST commuters. And 1.08 lakh autos will be out of gear in the suburbs.
Claiming these are coercive tactics, Shirish Deshpande, chairperson of the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat said the chief minister should take serious note of this: “How long does the chief minister expect consumers to be patient and take this lying down? Even after the downpour today, Rao wants to cripple transport services. This is just terrorising the government and people.”
Activists said that workers should not be awarded with blanket bonuses. “Instead of announcing blanket bonuses to everybody, theirs should be performance-based — like in the case of corporates,” said Aftab Siddique, a Khar-based activist.
Other trade unions assured they would continue their services even during the protest. “During every monsoon, Rao attempts such a political stunt to create panic among citizens. We don’t care for his threats,” said Haji Arfat Shaikh, president of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s transport wing.