Talks with unions fail, Mumbai transport body staff set for Tuesday’s strike
The strike is to demand higher grade pay for employees recruited from 2007, compassionate appointments and deliberations on a new wage agreementUpdated: Jan 05, 2019 00:16 IST
With the second round of talks between labour unions and administration failing, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) staff is likely to go ahead with their indefinite strike starting Monday midnight. BEST has a fleet of 3,300 buses and ferries around 29 lakh passengers across the city and suburbs daily.
The strike is to demand higher grade pay for employees recruited from 2007, compassionate appointments and deliberations on a new wage agreement that was to come into effect from April 2016. BEST Sanyukta Kamgar Kruti Samiti (BSKKS), a joint action committee of labour unions, had threatened to go on strike last week.
To save passengers the hassle, the administration approached the industrial court to declare the strike illegal and the state to invoke provisions of the Maharashtra Emergency Services Maintenance Act. “Apart from our efforts on administrative level, we are trying to resolve the issue through talks,” said Surendrakumar Bagde, general manager of BEST, while responding to a discussion on an adjournment motion in the meeting of BEST panel, the policy-making body. The adjournment motion was moved by a senior Congress member and leader of Opposition in BMC. During the discussion, members of both ruling and Opposition parties slammed BEST administration for non-payment of ₹5,500 bonus that was announced in Diwali.
Bagde called all unions for talks on Friday evening, but it didn’t yield any result. Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar was to hold another meeting, which was cancelled as he was hospitalised. “We are firm on the strike,” said Shashank Rao, after meeting BEST administration.
Ravi Raja, leader of the Opposition, said, “BEST buses and suburban locals are lifelines of Mumbai. People will face hardship, if BEST employees go on strike,” he said. BJP member Sunil Ganacharya said the administration’s policies are to blame for the fiasco.
On December 20, BSKKS had conducted a ballot on the strike. Of the 15,211 votes cast, 14,461 were in favour of the strike, while 641 voted against it. Fifty-nine votes were invalid. Based on the response, the union announced the strike.
First Published: Jan 05, 2019 00:16 IST