The unions and Joint Action Committee of former employees of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) have postponed their three-day strike by a week. This decision was taken at around 8.30 pm yesterday, after a two-hour long meeting.
If the BEST employees had gone on strike, 30-lakh commuters would have been affected, like the the people in this picture. The strike has been postponed to give the administration more time to make a decision. File pic
“We have postponed it till after November 3,” said Sunil Ganacharya, BEST union leader. That day there will be a committee meeting where different members of BEST across political parties, will have discussions again. During yesterday’s meeting , it was decided among the various leaders — namely from Shiv Sena and former BEST employees — to give the administration some more time to decide. Sources said, general manager Jagdish Patil categorically stated that they don’t have funds for disbursing bonus to employees.
“We have appealed to our employees to not go on strike. We could not make a provision for bonus this year due to poor financial status,” said Patil. The bonus demand is for 45,000 employees who have not got it over the past four years.
The BEST officials stressed their precarious financial condition as they pay Rs 261 crore annually, just as interest to various banks and they have taken loans even from their parent organisation Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
“These loans were taken to pay Tata Power and offload other expenditure. We cannot afford to pay bonus that pegs around Rs 40 crore,” said a BEST official. This is the case, despite BEST earning a surplus of Rs 64 crore this financial year after recovering Transport Deficit Loss that is being charged from the electricity users of the island city (those between Colaba-Sion/Mahim). The officials claim that TDLR will be removed after 2015-16 and then again their financial situation will become pathetic.