AS THE strike by BEST workers entered its third day on Thursday, the workers’ union of the undertaking said that the agitation will continue on Friday, even as talks between BEST management and union leaders went on late into the night. This comes a day after 2,000 eviction notices were issued to the striking employees by the state government under the Maintenance of Essential Services and Maintenance Act. The notices were issued to BEST employees staying at government quarters in Bhoiwada, Parel, Colaba and Wadala.
Shashank Rao, the general secretary of the union, said: “While the workers have demanded a merger of the budgets of the BEST and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, civic officials have said it was not possible.”
The BEST administration, meanwhile, has lodged complaints against 11 employees of the workers’ union, who had refused to resume work, at the Colaba police station. Another 333 workers and staffers working in offices and depots, who had not reported to work, have been issued notices.
Thursday, meanwhile, saw woman relatives of the BEST employees holding a protest march at Wadala depot against the eviction notices. “Our husbands don’t get paid until 15th of the month while bonuses are deducted from their salary… Instead of resolving these issues, we are being thrown out of our homes,” said Geeta Meher, a protester.
Sources in the BEST said that so far, the cash-strapped undertaking has incurred a loss of Rs 9 crore due on account of the strike. More than 30,000 BEST employees have been on an indefinite strike since January 7 midnight.
PIL in HC seeks order to end strike
A PIL was filed before the Bombay High Court on Thursday seeking interim orders to direct BEST workers to call off their strike and resume duties immediately. Following this, the court issued notices to the BEST Workers’ Union, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and the state government. It will hear the case next on Friday.
The PIL, filed by lawyer Datta Mane, also sought that authorities be directed to appoint a committee to look into the demands of the workers, who have been on a strike since the midnight of January 7. Mane said over 3,700 buses have been off the roads, causing difficulty and inconvenience to 50 lakh commuters.