BEST unions demand compensation for COVID-19 victims
BL Soni

The BEST Workers' Joint Action Committee has launched an online petition seeking compensation for the kin of the employees of the city bus service Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) who died due to COVID-19.

Over 1,350 BEST employees have tested positive for coronavirus and 107 employees have died due to the viral infection, the petition addressed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray claimed.

The committee, a joint forum of BEST unions, demanded immediate payment of a compensation of Rs 50 lakh each to the families of dead employees.

The petition, launched on Tuesday, had been signed by over 900 people by Wednesday evening, union leaders said. It would be submitted to the chief minister, they said.

"Deaths of 107 out of (total) 34,000 employees means the death rate is 130 times the country's per million population mortality rate," said Shashank Rao, convener of the action committee.

The BEST administration was not paying attention to their demands, he claimed.

The action committee also demanded that BEST announce a list of employees who died while serving since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Apart from compensation, their legal heirs should get jobs as per a Government Resolution, it said.

The petition also demanded a dedicated COVID-19 treatment facility for BEST employees and their families at WadalaBus Depot.

The BEST administration has illegally issued charge-sheets to thousands of workers and dismissed many over absence from duty during lockdown, the committee alleged.

BEST officials could not be reached for comment.

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