In what will come as temporary relief for Mumbaikars, the unions and joint action committee, consisting of former employees of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) have called off their strike for a week. The decision to postpone the strike was taken at around 8.30pm on October 26, after a two-hour long meeting.
"We have postponed it till November 3," said Sunil Ganacharya, BEST union leader. On November 3, there will be a committee meeting where the different members of BEST across political parties will discuss the issues.
A BEST official claimed the Undertaking is experiencing its worst ever fiscal year and the losses incurred have already touched R2,400 crore. He added that if the bonus gets approved, then Mumbaikars would have to bear the brunt in the form of hiked bus fare or electricity tariffs.
He said the BMC, being the parent body, should pump money into the BEST to help disburse the pending amount.
Various unions have claimed that nearly 45,000 employees have been deprived of bonus for the last three years. “Employees need and deserve the bonus, amounting to R40 crore. We will be meeting the administration to sort this out or else we will go on a strike,” said Suhas Samant, union leader of BEST Kamgar Sena.
Shashank Rao, president of BEST Workers Union, said, “A meeting has been scheduled to discuss the bonus and work schedule of drivers and conductors. But if it fails to yield results, then we will go on strike starting midnight. Its effects would be felt on October 27.”
On October 23, the Industrial Court issued orders prohibiting the unions from going on the three-day strike. In addition, state has invoked the Maharashtra Essential Services Act (MESMA), 2011, to deter the BEST employees from striking.
The notification reads: The government of Maharashtra is satisfied that in the public interest, it is necessary to prohibit the strike in the said essential services provided by the undertaking.