BEST workers to go on indefinite strike from midnight, brace for chaos tomorrow

BEST workers to go on indefinite strike from midnight, brace for chaos tomorrow
The worker’s unions called for a strike after multiple talks with the administration failed to yield any results (Representational Image)

Over 25 lakh Mumbai commuters may have to brace for major inconvenience on Tuesday morning as Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) employees go on an indefinite strike from midnight today.

The strike has been called by BEST Sanyukta Kamgar Kruti Samiti (BSKKS), an umbrella body of labour unions.

The organisation has made several demands like the merger of BMC & BEST’s budgets, higher pay for employees recruited post-2007, discussion on the new wage agreements among others. However, the administration is yet to fulfil them.

The representatives held several discussions with the administration on the subject. However, given that most of the demands remained unfulfilled, the BSKKS asked employees to vote on the strike in December.

In the poll, about 95 percent of the 15,200 plus workers voted in favour of striking. The body subsequently announced its decision to go on strike from midnight today, January 7.

BEST general manager Surendrakumar Bagde met union leaders on Friday, but failed to break the deadlock. The representatives were supposed to hold another meeting with Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, which got pushed amid the latter’s hospitalisation.

For now, the administration has issued circulars and warned staffers of action if they take part in the strike. The BEST management has also threatened to invoke MESMA (Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act), but unions remain adamant.

Apart from inconveniencing commuters, the service disruption will burn a sizeable hole in the pockets of the cash-strapped BEST, which is estimated to lose roughly Rs 3 crore every day its fleet of 3,300 buses stays in depots.

Meanwhile, independent citizens’ forum ‘Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi BEST’ has given credence to some of the union’s demands; albeit without supporting the strike.

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