Mumbai, January 7: Employees of BEST bus in Mumbai are set to go on indefinite strike from Monday midnight. Nearly 25 lakh commuters will be affected starting Tuesday due to the scheduled strike by BEST bus employees. To prevent the loss of around Rs 3 crore in daily ticket earnings due to the strike, the BEST management warned of stringent action under MESMA (Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act) if they join the 'illegal' hartal.
The BEST employees demand merger of BEST and BMC budgets to ensure the former is bailed out, salary increment, disbursal of bonus and housing. Speaking to a leading daily, union leader Shashank Rao said the BEST administration will be responsible for the inconvenience caused to citizens as they did not pay heed to their demands. He also accused the administration of delaying the merger of BEST and BMC budgets despite approvals from the civic body. Bank Strike on January 8 and 9, 2019: Employees to Observe 2-Day Hartal, ATM Transactions to Be Affected.
However, BEST general manager Surendrakumar Bagde had blamed unions for stalling procurement of new buses on wet lease. "We plan to increase ridership to 60 lakh and introduce 1,000 new buses for Mumbai in 2019, but this is not possible as the union moved court against the wet lease policy," he had told the BEST committee. The Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi BEST, an independent citizens’ forum, though, said it does not support any strike, admitted some of the demands are "genuine".
"The main demand of the strike -- the merger of the BEST budget with the principal budget of the BMC – would also be in the interests of the vast majority of commuters," Vidyadhar Date of AMAB was quoted as saying.