Around 4,600 BEST conductors and drivers were given only half of their salaries on June 20.
Mumbai: The BEST employees’ union has called of strike that was to be observed on Thursday in protest of BEST’s decision to pay their conductors and drivers only 50 per cent of their salaries because of being cash-strapped. The strike was called off on Wednesday evening after the BEST management ensured them that their salaries would be given by Thursday morning.
Around 4,600 BEST conductors and drivers were given only half of their salaries on June 20 due to an apparent financial crunch faced by the government undertaking. According to the sources, BEST has stopped the payment of one of its suppliers in order to generate the Rs 70 crore they require to give out the remaining salaries of the workers.
A letter addressed to the union stated that, ‘the remaining 50 per cent of the salary for the month May, 2017 will be given to the members of the staff of the undertaking on June 22.’ In response to which, President of the union, Shashank Rao said, “We have called off the strike because they have assured us that the salaries would be transferred to the account of the workers on Thursday.”
“We have taken a short term loan for the internal operations and so the workers will get their salaries by Thursday morning for sure,” said Hanumant Gophane, public relations officer, BEST.
The story began when the undertaking had stuck notices announcing about the payment of 50 per cent salaries on all depots across the city on Monday. This had caused uproar among the workers who were already angry about the delay in getting salaries till the 20th of each month since February this year.
Recurring losses stop salary flow
The transport wing of BEST has been suffering losses since the last five years.
It was in October 2016 that the courts stopped the undertakings measure where it charged Transport Deficit Loss Recovery (TDLR) to its 30 lakh power consumers in the island city.
Since then it has been finding it increasingly difficult to pay salaries to its workers.
Similar strikes in the past
April 2014: The drivers and conductors had gone a one day strike after their changed rota had caused drivers to work eight to 10 hours in a row. The strike was resolved after the management made some changes in the working hours, allowing the workers to take a break every five hours.
Arpil 2007: Around 5,000 employees were removed from services by the then general manger Uttam Khobhragade for taking part in a two-day strike, over revision in wages under the specification laid down by the labour union. The strike has been one of the most controversial ones in the history of Mumbai as Mr Khobhragade had hired over 750 drivers and conductors to break the strike, overnight.