Mumbai: BEST strike enters fifth day, to continue
Organiser Shashank Rao blames BMC; HC asks BEST Undertaking's Workers' Union to hold meeting, break stalemate
The BEST strike organised by Shashank Rao's union that enters the fifth day today, has broken the record of his father, Sharad Rao's strike in 1998. The last three-day BEST strike was organised by Sharad Rao on October 6, 1998, for higher bonus and better medical facilities. The one before that was a 10-day strike organised by George Fernandes in the 1970s, an old-time employee recalled.
On Friday, even as scores of meetings at various levels failed, the Bombay High Court asked the BEST Workers' Union to hold a meeting of its office-bearers to break the stalemate. The Maharashtra government had set up a committee, headed by the chief secretary, to hold talks with the union. Secretaries of the urban development and transport departments were also part of the committee.
Opposition leader and the senior-most committee member in BEST, who has been there for over 20 years, Ravi Raja blamed the administration.
"The trigger was the Diwali bonus, which was promised and not given. The second point was salaries that started coming at 15th and everything accumulated led to anger," he told mid-day.
Blaming the BMC, BEST Sanyukta Kamgar Kruti Samiti (BSKKS) president Shashank Rao said it will continue on Saturday even as sources said the BEST administration has worked out a fare hike proposal for bus and power tariff.
Maharashtra Transport Commissioner Shekhar Channe said more than 1,000 private buses, including school buses, will be operated by private bus owners' unions to help Mumbaikars. Long distance buses travelling on highways have been told to pick up passengers from BEST bus stops and drop them enroute.
MNS chief insists
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Friday issued a statement saying if the strike did not end, his party would do so in MNS-style on Monday to end Mumbaikars' plight.
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