BEST strike enters day 7, union to take a call after HC hearing on Monday
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BEST strike enters day 7, union to take a call after HC hearing on Monday

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said the civic body was willing consider revising wages and merging the budget of BEST with that of the civic body — two main demands of the protesting workers.

mumbai Updated: Jan 14, 2019 08:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
BEST buses strike,BMC,shiv sena
On Sunday, January 13, only four BEST bus drivers reported to work as the union said it will take a decision on the strike after a Bombay HC heraring on the matter on Monday. (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

Brace for traffic snarls, crowded trains, high-charging autorickshaws and taxis, and no BEST buses on Monday morning, as the strike by Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) workers enters its seventh day.

While Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said the civic body was willing consider revising wages and merging the budget of BEST with that of the civic body — two main demands of the protesting workers — until Sunday evening there were no talks between the BEST Sayukt Kamgar Kruti Samiti (BSKKS) union, representing the employees, and the BEST administration. Thackeray also assured there would be no job cuts but any unreasonable demands would not be accepted.

The union said it would decide on whether to continue their strike after the three-member committee headed by chief secretary DK Jain submits its findings to the Bombay high court on Monday. The panel conducted two separate meetings with union leaders and the BEST and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) administration on Saturday. “The committee heard us and the administration separately and will submit its report in the HC on Monday. We have not received any communication from the administration after the meeting. Our lawyers will be at the hearing, after which we will decide on whether to continue the strike,” said Shashank Rao, president, BEST workers’ union.

On Sunday, only four bus drivers reported to work; not a single conductor reported. The state government has allowed private vehicles to ferry passengers. Around 27 Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses and nine Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) buses are also plying. The Central and Western railway are operating 16 extra local train services. However, passengers are still hit as the absence of buses means more vehicles on the roads and crowds on the trains.

Autorickshaws continued to overcharge, commuters said. “I cancelled my Sunday plans as autorickshaws and taxi drivers were overcharging. It is sad the government is not doing anything,” said Komal Lahane, a Currey Road resident.

Citizen’s group Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi Best has started an online petition asking civic chief Ajoy Mehta to take steps to restore the bus service. “Stop closing bus routes, reducing buses and employees, stop promoting private vehicles, fare hikes, private contractors and sale of public land and immediately attend to the demands of the striking BEST employees and redress their grievances,” the petition reads. “Buy more buses, increase frequency, reduce fares, restart closed routes, ensure adequate funding for necessary enhancement and expansion of bus services in the city and facilitate merger of the BEST budget with the main budget of the BMC.”

BKKS union, action committee of labour unions, are demanding a higher grade pay of Rs 7,930, called master grade for around 14,000 junior grade employees appointed between 2007 to 2016. The unions are also asking for an adjustable Rs 8,500 interim relief for every employee, until the wage agreement is signed with the administration.The union wants the merger of BEST budget with the budget of BMC, which is the parent body of the century-old undertaking.

First Published: Jan 14, 2019 08:59 IST