Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) strike has continued on the fourth day, Friday, turning into what could be called the longest in its history. It was in 1997 that a BEST strike had stretched on for three days. Also on Friday, a Bombay High Court bench would be hearing a PIL against the strike.
Even Shiv Sena’s intervention failed on Thursday night after talks that reportedly went on for seven hours. “The talks yielded no concrete results. They have not given the union any proposal or offer which can fulfil our demands. So, workers will continue the strike indefinitely,” Shashank Rao of BEST Workers’ Union was quoted by a daily as saying after the meeting.
At the meeting were also present mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and BEST general manager Surendrakumar Bagde.
With more BEST electricity wing workers going on strike on Thursday, the power supply department could also be hit. Reports suggest more than 50 per cent of its staff is absent. Rao said their demand for merging BEST and civic budgets was also turned down.
Their other demands include bonus payment, gratuity to former staffers, staff quarters issues and those regarding gradation of junior staff.
On Thursday, the BEST management had invoked MESMA (Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act) against 58 more staff from the electricity wing; that’s 358 employees booked under this Act. It also issued 333 contempt notices for defying the industrial court order which restrained staff from going on strike.
The union was also upset over the eviction notices served at staff quarters. Women from these quarters took out a morcha to Wadala bus depot against the notices.
A daily said a delegation also met MNS chief Raj Thackeray. BMC opposition leader Ravi Raja said he will move an adjournment motion to stop the proceedings of BEST committee meeting scheduled on Friday, to show “no confidence” for the management action to issue notices.
Meanwhile, the Bombay High Court issued notices on Thursday to the Maharashtra government, BMC and the BEST Workers’ Union over a PIL against the ongoing strike of employees of the civic bus service. A bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice N M Jamdar posted the matter for a further hearing on Friday.