BEST strike continues on third day after talks fail
BEST Sanyukta Kamgar Kruti Samiti, a joint action committee of labour unions leading the strike, was due to meet the administration again on Thursday as thousands of commuters were affected with buses off the road.mumbai Updated: Jan 10, 2019 10:08 IST
A strike by Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) employees to demand better pay and benefits among other things entered the third day on Thursday as talks between staff and the management failed to break the impasse.
BEST Sanyukta Kamgar Kruti Samiti (BSKKS), a joint action committee of labour unions leading the strike, was due to meet the administration again on Thursday as thousands of commuters were affected with buses off the road.
“We are firm on our demand. We want a written assurance from the BEST management that the issues of the employees raised will be heard and discussed. Post the assurance, we will discuss with the employees and decide the course of action,” said Shashank Rao, president of BEST Workers’ union.
BEST officials said out of the 2,058 buses scheduled to run at 7am, none left from the 27 bus depots across the city. Four bus drivers out of 2,513 and one conductor out of 2,593 reported to work on 7am on Thursday, they said.
Office workers heading to work on Thursday morning and children waiting for school were the ones most affected. The state government allowed private buses and vehicles to ferry passengers in the city on Wednesday but commuters said they still had to wait for auto rickshaws and taxis.
“It is so irritating, I have been standing for 20 minutes with no share auto rickshaw in sight. A normal auto rickshaw is charging Rs 20 rupees. I would typically reach is my workplace in Rs 10 from BEST bus. The government is doing nothing about the strike,” said Shweta Chavan, Andheri resident
“#Bestbus Stike in Mumbai is such a pity.. Can the acchedin Government step in and avoid inconvenience to both BEST employees as well as commuters.. I do not travel by bus but seeing so many commuters stranded near Andheri Station is sad @AUThackeray @Dev_Fadnavis (sic),” tweeted @Blinkorshrink.
The Central Railway they will run additional trains in view of the BEST strike.
BEST management on Wednesday served notices to 300 employees under the Maharashtra Essential Services and Maintenance (MESMA) Act 2012, a first since 2007. The management also served eviction notices to 2, 000 other employees residing in BEST’s Bhoiwada and Parel quarters, which saw families stopping officials from entering the premises.
The unions said the management’s crackdown as pressure tactics and that they would not end the strike, and according to some officials, even escalate the situation.
BSKKS is demanding higher grade pay for employees recruited from 2007, a bonus equivalent to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) staff, a merger of BEST budget with the that of BMC’s. They also want compassionate appointments to resume, and discussions on a new wage agreement that was to come into effect from April 2016.
The unions are also strongly against the management’s decision to get new buses on a lease.
First Published: Jan 10, 2019 10:03 IST