Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport [B.E.S.T.] services are likely to be brought on standstill from the midnight, as the talks between the employees and the administration failed on Friday. The failed communication will result in city going haywire with no ‘Red Buses’ on the streets of Mumbai on Tuesday and Wednesday. As per an estimation, more than 95% of the BEST employees are sleeving up to participate in the protest under various union leaders. In the opinion seeking election held on Dec 20, majority of the employees voted in favor of the strike to demand pay hike. Their other demands include Diwali bonus, recruitment of relatives of the retired/deceased employees as compensation, merger of BEST with BMC and affordable house and pay fixation of 7930 employees.
If a statistics by a report is to be believed, around 3600 buses are run by BEST over 443 routes and have a workforce of 38,000 among which 22,000 are bus drivers and conductors. With no red bus on the streets of the city, approximately five million commuters most likely will get affected badly in commuting across the city.
Commuters are against the strike as they are the ones to face the hardship, but Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi BEST [AMAB], an independent forum of Mumbai citizens, is in support of the strike as they feel that certain demands like merging of BMC and BEST budget are genuine.
On the other hand, BEST has issued an internal circulars in this regard to the staff. The administration has warned the employees participating in the strike of strict action be taken if they participate in this illegal strike. Additionally, Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act [MESMA] will be applied on them and union leaders may have to face imprisonment.
Even after the warning given to the employees, there seem to be no fear among the employees as they are, reportedly, ready for the protest. Earlier this morning, a meeting was called by BEST administration to avoid the strike by depositing bonus amount of Rs. 5,500 in employees’ accounts and negotiation about the pay pact. The result of the meeting is still not out and the employees are firm on proceeding the strike.
As per a report, BEST routinely has an income of 2.50 crores through sale of ticket in BEST buses. During festivals the income hikes upto Rs 3 Crores. BEST makes an annual provision of Rs 120 crores for salary payment of nearly 37,000 employees attached to the transport division and 7000 working in electricity division. On August 7, 2017 a daylong strike was observed for similar demand. Shiv Sena which controls the BMC and BEST is seemingly helpless and unable to take decision.