The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) worker’s union decided to go ahead with the bus strike from Monday to press for their demands, including timely payment of salaries.
The bus strike would put citizens to inconvenience as ‘Raksha Bandhan’ is being celebrated on Monday.
The BEST employees and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have been at the loggerheads for the past few days over several issues, including irregular payment of salary.
The BEST employees’ union led by Shashank Rao, which claims to have support of 16,500 workers, said, “We wanted a written assurance from the BMC administration but they did not give it. Now, we have decided not to report to duty from midnight. No bus will ply tomorrow.”
The Maharashtra government has warned of invoking Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA), 2011 against the employees who go on strike.
“We want a solution and it lies with the BMC, which says BEST employees are its own. BEST employees should get all the facilities that a BMC employee gets. We want a letter from the the civic commissioner admitting that BEST is very much part of BMC,” he said.
The union had already announced that it would go on strike from August 7, which prompted the civic administration to hold an urgent meeting today and hold talks with the various unions of the BEST.
Around nine unions of the BEST formed an action committee, which has been holding talks with the administration.
Even Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tried to intervene in the matter this afternoon, though it failed to resolve the issue. The last meeting with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was also failed to satisfy the union, which is why it decided to go ahead with the strike.
There are over 35,000 employees working in the transport section of the BEST.
“In the last 12 years, the BEST fleet has gone up, but number of commuters is now less than 30 lakh, which was earlier over 40 lakh,” a BEST official said.
BEST general manager Surendrakumar Bagade said, “We have agreed to make payment to our employees before August 10. Similarly, BEST will pay the salary by 10th of every month. We have taken this decision irrespective of the financial crisis BEST is facing.”