Mumbai

BEST workers threaten stir again

In January, BEST employees had gone on a historic nine-day strike and put forward key demands such as eliminating the wage disparity.

In January, BEST employees had gone on a historic nine-day strike and put forward key demands such as eliminating the wage disparity.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Demand implementation of terms of MoU signed in June

The workers’ union of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has threatened to go on an indefinite strike from midnight of August 6 if the BEST administration and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) fail to implement the MoU inked on June 11.

The MoU was hailed as a major breakthrough in a long-standing deadlock between the union and the administration. The union had agreed in the MoU to withdraw its case challenging the administration’s decision to procure buses on wet lease. The Industrial Court had granted a stay, impeding the administration’s plans to implement the reform package demanded by the BMC in return for financial aid.

In the MoU, the BEST administration had agreed to increase the pay scale for workers inducted after 2007. The administration also agreed to initiate talks for a new wage agreement.

‘Unkept promises’

However, union members said the administration has failed to keep its promises. Shashank Rao, general secretary, BEST Workers’ Union, said, “We withdrew the case as soon as the MoU was signed. We expect the administration to honour their side of the commitment. We sent them several reminders, but it was all in vain. We have given them time till August 6. If our demands are not met, then we would have no option but to strike. The BEST administration and the BMC would have to take the blame for it.”

After the case was withdrawn, the BEST administration issued work orders to procure 400 midi air-conditioned buses on a wet lease basis with plans to expand the fleet strength to 6,000 buses from 3,223. One of the main conditions that the BMC had laid down was to procure more buses on a wet lease model, where the buses are owned and maintained by private parties. Once the terms were met, the BMC had agreed to provide a grant of ₹600 crore in tranches of ₹100 crore.

In January, BEST employees had gone on a historic nine-day strike and put forward key demands such as eliminating the wage disparity between BEST workers by raising the pay grade of workers inducted after 2007 and initiating talks for a new wage settlement, which has been pending since April 2016. With unrest brewing among workers, a fresh strike could derail plans to keep the transport undertaking afloat.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 8:39:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/best-workers-threaten-stir-again/article28665051.ece

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