The commuters of second lifeline of Mumbai, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST), is again in trouble as a section of it’s workers have sat on indefinite strike in Mumbai from Wednesday. The workers are demanding merger of BEST budget with Shiv Sena ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), raise in pay package & decision on Diwali bonus disbursement.
The decision to stage a protest in the form of a strike was made after the negotiation with the state administration failed. The BEST Sanyukt Kamgar Kruti Samiti (BSKKS) president, Shashank Rao, briefed reporters that the strike is initially for few days, however, it may extend for more days in the failure of any decisive action on their demands. Rao accused Shiv Sena of lying about the budget required to fulfill the workers’ demands.
“Shiv Sena says it would implement 7th pay commission recommendations which will need Rs. 2750 crore. We have spoken to the BEST General Manager who said the transporter can give maximum Rs. 789 crore. Shiv Sena is lying to us,” alleged Rao, quoted ANI.
BEST is an employer to around 36,000 staff in the financial capital of the nation and currently only a section of the total staff are backing the strike. Sources say that around 22,000 staff are members to unions and if all of them join the strike, the city’s public transport will be hit at a large. The Union led by Shashank Rao had conducted a poll to take the opinion from the BEST workers on holding the indefinite strike.
“We have conducted a poll of employees & 98% voted in favour of an indefinite strike. But we decided not to act in haste and give the management a couple of days to look into our demands and come up with a comprehensive wage agreement,” Rao was quoted as saying by TOI on Tuesday. The Union leader added that the last minute talks couldn’t be conclusive and hinted at staging an agitation in the form of strike to pressurise the BEST management to accept their demands.