BEST employees firm on strike from Jan 7 despite court restrictions

Around 29,000 employees of the civic run transport service BEST are going on an indefinite strike beginning Monday midnight for various demands despite an industrial court restraining them from taking the step.

Due to the strike, around 25 lakh passengers who travel by 3000 BEST buses that ply on streets of Mumbai city and the metropolitan region every day will be inconvenienced, a union official said late night.

Various unions of BEST workers are demanding renewal of their salary agreements that got expired in 2016, rise in gratuity and bonus amounts, he said.

They are also seeking immediate resolution of housing issues and merger of various undertakings of BEST (Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport)--the civic transport and electricity provider public body based in Mumbai.

The unions also demanded that BEST and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) budgets be merged.

The official said the employees decided to go on strike, as the BEST administration failed to come up with any concrete solution to resolve their long-pending demands.

Meanwhile, sources said the Maharashtra government might slap Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) on the striking employees.

The Act gives police the right to arrest, without a warrant, anybody violating the provisions.

The BEST management had declared the strike illegal and issued internal circulars warning staffers of strict action if they proceeded with it.

When all talks between the parties failed, the BEST management approached the Industrial Court seeking relief against the strike.

Earlier in the day, Industrial Court Member S V Suryawanshi, after hearing brief arguments, restrained union workers from going on strike till it hears the complaint filed by BEST management.

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