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Mumbai commuters’ woes won’t end, BEST may announce bus strike on Monday

Mumbai city news: Of those who cast their votes, 18,537 voted in favour of going on a strike to press for demands, including timely payment of salary

mumbai Updated: Jul 20, 2017 10:45 IST
Kailash Korde
Kailash Korde
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,BEST,employees
A joint action committee formed by all major labour unions, including BEST Kamagar Sena, will take the final call by Monday. (File photo)

More than 97% Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) employees who participated in the ballot on Wednesday, voted in favour of a strike to press for various demands, including salary on time. The strike ballot was organised by the joint action committee of the BEST employees’ unions. The committee is likely to announce its decision by Monday.

As per statement issued by the BEST Sanyukta Kamgar Kriti Samiti (BSKKS), a joint action committee formed by all major labour unions including BEST Kamagar Sena, 19,094 BEST employees cast their vote. Of these, 18,537 voted in favour of going on a strike. The committee also said that only 496 employees voted against the strike, while 61 votes were nullified owing to various reasons.

After suburban railways, BEST buses are the second largest public transport system and the strike will hit Mumbaiites hard.

Though the BEST labour unions have gone on strikes on several occasions in the past, it was for the first time that a strike ballot was conducted for calling a strike. Under provisions of the Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, a ballot is mandatory before calling for a strike. By holding a ballot, the protesters can protect themselves from legal action by the authorities.

A few of the demands made the committee are that the civic body should take responsibility of BEST workers’ salaries, scrap software designed by a Canadian firm to decide their work hours, ban hiring of private buses, replace old Trimex machines and renew wage agreement.

Shashank Rao, leader of BEST Workers Union, said that this strike ballot result was a warning for the BEST, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the state government. “The authorities should not take us for granted,” said Rao. He added that the action committee members will meet to decided the future course of action.

According to sources, BEST administration is trying hard to prevent employees going on a strike. Earlier, the administration had said it would disburse salaries before July 20 and released it right before the ballot. Also, the administration is renew the Canada schedule contract.

Matters of concern

The century-old BEST administration is currently facing its worst financial crisis and has delayed salaries for three months. The BEST undertaking ferries 30 lakh suburban commuters daily and supplies power to 10 lakh consumers in the island city. The undertaking has incurred a loss of more than Rs2100 crore.

First Published: Jul 20, 2017 10:44 IST