BEST strike called-off as parties agree on a mediator

The Bombay High Court has asked the mediator to submit the report within three months.

January 16, 2019 01:28 pm | Updated 04:54 pm IST - Mumbai

Sunil Pandit, a driver with BEST, resumes work nine-day strike.

Sunil Pandit, a driver with BEST, resumes work nine-day strike.

After entering the ninth day of their strike, the advocate appearing for Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Workers Union told the Bombay High Court on Wednesday that the strike can be called off.

This declaration was made after the BEST, Maharashtra government, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Union decided on a mediator for all the issues.

A division Bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice N.M. Jamdar told advocate Neeta Karnik representing the Union to consider mediation after she reiterated that the disparity of payment between a BMC employee and a BEST employee is glaring and needs to be reduced.

Ms. Karnik pressed for atleast 15-step increment in the pay scale as BEST has the funds. She did not agree with the 10-step increment recommended by the committee headed by the Chief Secretary before court on January 15. That is when the court said, “go to a mediator, take his view and consider it.”

The court told BEST counsel M.P. Rao, “to give a reasonable hearing and decide on a respectable amount.” He then agreed to give a 10-step increment in their salaries from January instead of February without arrears.

After BMC, Maharashtra government, BEST and the Workers Union agreed to go into mediation, advocate Karnik suggested, Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Radhakrishnan. However the name of the mediator has been kept blank and not decided as yet

Among the issues for mediation as decided by the Union are to consider the merger of the budgets of BEST and the BMC. There is an entire charter of demands, which was to be partly given effect from April 2016, this too needs to be discussed.

The report of the mediation has to be submitted within three months to the court.

Later in the day, the strike called off by union leader Shashank Rao in front of a massive crowd at Wadala staff quarters in Mumbai.

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