BEST IS BROKE, CAN’T PAY SALARIES!

Though no reason has been given, workers suspect it’s a tactic to force them to follow the new rota system

Mumbai

Over 45,000 employees of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking are yet to get their salaries for April. The wage bill is Rs 140 crore per month.

Although no one official is prepared to say anything, workers suspect that this is a tactic to pressurise them to follow the new rota schedule, which is to be implemented from June 1. Some others feel that they are being punished for the two-day flash strike on April 1 and 2.

Notice boards have been put across the 26 bus depots and at the electricity offices informing the employees that salaries would be delayed. However, no reason has been given. Workers say the management first said payday would be May 4, then May 10, May 16 and now May 20.

General manager O P Gupta was unavailable for comment and did not answer text messages either. BEST committee members professed ignorance and one of them, Ranjan Chaudhary, said they would discuss the issue at the next meeting on June 21.

The majority BEST Workers Union, also says it does not know why the salaries are delayed. Its leader, Sharad Rao, is out of the country. Assistant general-secretary of the union, Ranganath Satvase, said, “The GM has assured us that the salaries would come on May 20. If it fails, we will decide what to do.’’

He said, salaries have been delayed every month this year with ten days being the longest delay.

A BEST spokesperson, who does not want to be named, said that the undertaking does not have the money. “We are arranging for it,’’ he said.

Transport activist Rishi Aggarwal said, “Ideally the management should have foreseen things. The political class can spend Rs 7,000 cr for road repair work but they are not willing to spend money on BEST which ferries three million people.”

Geeta Bhagat & Iram Siddique

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