Mumbai: BEST unions threaten 3-day strike over pending bonus

Apart from threatening to stop operating buses, unions said even power issues would go unattended — starting midnight — if the meeting between them and the Undertaking fails

Today's 3 pm meeting between the unions and the BEST administration will decide whether buses will ply across Mumbai for the next three days. The meet has been scheduled to iron out issues pertaining to distribution of bonus to the BEST employees.

File pic for representation
File pic for representation

However, a failure to resolve it will result in buses going off the streets, starting midnight. Not just that, sources in the BEST Undertaking said unions have stated that even the power issues will go unattended. 

“We will be meeting them to sort out the issues and prevent them from going on a strike. Though we want to give bonus to all the employees, it will be difficult to do so keeping in mind the existing financial condition,” said Jagdish Patil, general manager, BEST Undertaking.

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.

Union speak
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.”

Counter-strike
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.

Rs 40 crore
Bonus due for the last three years

45,000
Number of BEST employees

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