News headlines


Mumbai, Apr 19: The city residents are in for a tough Thursday with around 3,000 BEST buses, a major lifeline of the city commuters, to stay off the roads following a 72-hour called by the unions on Wednesday.

According to BEST worker's union members, the strike will begin from midnight.

The decision was taken following the failure of the meeting convened on Wednesday evening between warring unions and the BEST management failed to come to a consensus on the long-standing pay scale revision issue and interim dearness allowance.

"We have not received the final word yet. But its left to our leaders if they decide to stay off the road," said B S Shinde, a BEST employee.

The workers are irked by the management's reluctance to meet their DA demands and the confusion over wage agreement. However, an interim HC order restrains the BEST employees from going on a strike.

Top union leaders, including BEST Workers Union General Secretary Sharad Rao, Shankar Salvi and Suhas Samant took part in the failed meeting that was held in Mumbai on Wednesday. Salvi was named the chief of the action committee.

"We are asking for only eligible demands and nothing is going to prevent us from putting up a fight to get them," said another BEST employee at the Mahim depot.

BEST General Manager Uttam Khobragade had recently criticised Sharad Rao for his allegation that the management had taken a tardy stand in negotiating the dearness allowance issue with the union.

Rao had earlier claimed that BEST undertaking was reluctant to give DA to the employees even after registering a profit of Rs 276.50 crore.

"According to the audited final balance sheet for 2005-06, BEST incurred a net loss of Rs 178.95 crores," said Khobragade.

However, the striking faction has threatened to extend the strike if their demands are not met. 


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