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BEST Employees resume work after Bombay HC assures of Mediation by a Competent Entity over their Demands

The court ordered the BEST employees to call off the strike within one hour of hearing on Wednesday and the matter to be mediated by a retired justice of the High Court. The BEST employees' union leader, Shashank Rao, went straight to Wadala post the hearing where he announced the end of indefinite strike after taking consent from the employees, TOI reported.

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After Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) and the state administration failed to break the indefinite strike of BEST employees from last nine days, the Bombay High Court took cognizance of the matter on Wednesday. In the argument in the court over the issue, BEST employees’ union lawyer raised major two concerns while agreeing to call off the strike immediately. “We are ready to call off the strike but we have two concerns. First – we don’t want to deal with BEST alone as they will make us sign wet lease. We don’t want to sign wet lease. We want someone who understands our issues, someone who is not a bureaucrat. Second – instead of 10 step increment, we need 15 step increment,” said the advocate representing BEST employees’ union in the court, quoted news agency, ANI.

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The Court then questioned counsel for BEST if a 15 step increment is possible and if BEST is willing to accept the demand of 15 step increment of it’s employees. “It will be very difficult for us. It is not possible for us. It will increase the financial burden,” answered BEST’s counsel to the court, quoted ANI. The court then ordered the 10 step increment as an interim relief to the BEST administration, while asked the state government and BEST to consider the demands of the employees of increased salary from January than February. In the argument over the BEST’s warning of taking disciplinary action against the striking employees as Maharashtra Essential Services and Maintenance Act (MESMA) was invoked by the civic transport, the counsel for BEST employees’ union raised it before the court and urged that no such action must be taken against the striking employees. The advocate representing BEST rebutted to the urge by the BEST union counsel and asked if the employees are ready to sign the undertaking to not go on strike during the mediation as recommended by the Bombay HC. “They have to give an undertaking that they will not go on strike during the mediation period. We haven’t taken any action so far. Why would we do it when the matter will be up for mediation?” rebutted BEST’s counsel.

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The court ordered the BEST employees to call off the strike within one hour of hearing on Wednesday and the matter to be mediated by a retired justice of the High Court. The BEST employees’ union leader, Shashank Rao, went straight to Wadala post the hearing where he announced the end of indefinite strike after taking consent from the employees, TOI reported. The nine days’ strike almost brought every commuter in the city on their knees as the other mode of transport failed to meet the requirements. The BEST runs 3200 red buses in the city to service more than 25 lac commuters through it’s 36,000 bus drivers and bus conductors. As per a report, BEST lost around 27 lac revenue on the ticket sale in the last nine days as the BEST stopped functioning due to the strike. The matter will now be heard by a mediator to resolve the issues related to pay hike, recruitment, promotions, residence, etc. The Mumbai commuters seem to heave the sigh of relief after the indefinite strike was called off officially by the civic transport’s employees.

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