STRIKING EMPLOYEE unions under the banner of the BEST Kamgaar Samyukta Kriti Samiti on Tuesday evening said that it will continue with its agitation even as the Bombay High Court asked the workers to take a decision on the withdrawal of the strike.
With this, the strike that had started on January 7 midnight, will enter its ninth day on Wednesday.
Even after the high-power committee appointed by the state government, in pursuant to the directions of HC, suggested a 10-step increment in pay for BEST employees, the general secretary of the BEST workers’ union, Shashank Rao, said that the suggestion was not acceptable and the strike will continue.
“The junior grade employees, who are now getting a salary of Rs 15,000, after the implementation of these measures, will hardly get Rs 10,000. It is like slitting our throat and we will not agree to it,” said Rao.
He added, “Since 2012, employees have been surviving on low wages… if it’s only a 10-step increase, it means nothing. We haven’t got a copy of the report submitted by the three-member high power committee because of which we are finding it difficult to understand on what grounds the hike is being calculated.”
As measures to revive the cash-strapped BEST, the BMC and the BEST had suggested route rationalisation, stopping pay hikes and allowances to its staff and wet leasing of buses. The unions, however, feel that if these measures are implemented, workers may lose their jobs while thousands may face a paycuts.
After the HC heard a PIL against the strike on Tuesday, Rao went to the BEST workers’ colony in Wadala, where he met striking employees and their families. Rao said that while the workers had also demanded that the budgets of the BMC and BEST be merged to bring BEST employees at par with the wages earned by civic body employees, the union had not been offered any resolution or assurance in this regard.
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