BEST workers’ union calls off strike

16 Jan 2019


The nine-day-old bus strike by employees of Mumbai’s municipal transport service ended today after the Bombay High Court directed the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking to implement the `10-step increment’  plan and resolve the matter in three months.

The Bombay HC gave directions to the BEST administration to look into the enhancement of pay demand made by the striking employees. The implementation of an interim pay-hike for about 15,000 employees is to be done in 10 stages, from this month.
The workers’ union informed the Bombay High Court that it will call off the strike with immediate effect after the high court directed the workers’ union to take a final decision on the withdrawal of their strike.   
Among the terms agreed to withdraw the strike was the appointment of a retired high court judge who will negotiate terms between the workers’ union and BEST management.
Meanwhile, commuters had to face hardships due to the strike, even as the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) deployed its buses to minimise their woes.
Over 32,000 BEST employees had been on strike since 8 January over their various demands, including pay hike, revision of pay grade for junior level employees, and merger of loss-making BEST’s budget with that of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
It was the longest such protest in the history of the BEST. Notably, the workers' union had earlier rejected the management's '10-step increment' proposal to break the deadlock. 
The HC today gave an hour's ultimatum to the striking employees to return to work while the proceedings had begun in the court, ordering the management to not only begin implementation of the promised 10-step increment plan from January 2019 but also resolve the remaining issues in a period of three months.
BEST also informed the court that it was ready to implement the redressal measure suggested by the state government's high-powered committee on giving an interim pay hike to its employees.
On Tuesday, the BEST workers' union leader Shashank Rao had rejected the deal after convening a meeting at the Wadala Bus depot.
The union was firm in its demand of merging BEST's budget with that of BMC. 

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