Mumbai : A city-based firemen’s union threatened to go on a one day strike on December 24th for several pending demands, including payment of dues, on the same day as when a fire broke out in Andheri’s Crystal Plaza. While the fire was doused within an hour and no casualty was reported, a strike, even for a day, may spell doom for the city.
On Monday evening, a fire broke out on the ground-floor of a hotel in Andheri’s Crystal Plaza, after an exhaust fan in its kitchen triggered the blaze. The fire brigade received a call at 4.56 pm, after which two fire engines, two tankers and one ambulance were sent to the spot. No casualty was reported after the mishap and the fire was doused within 30 minutes.
In the meanwhile, the Mumbai Fire Fighters’ Services Union which represents about 800 firemen, threatened to go on a one-day dharna on Wednesday to press for long-pending demands. The union’s chief demand is that employees be given their pending dues according to the Sixth Pay Commission as well as for working overtime. They have also demanded timely promotions since, according to the union, additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh had directed the fire brigade administration on May 29 to give timely promotions to all firefighting jawans who have been in service from July 1, 2005. Other demands include clearing the Leave Travel Allowances promptly, giving appraisals, recruiting more technical staff for the maintenance of fire-fighting equipment as well as vehicles, etc
When asked if not the dharna will hamper fire-fighting in case of a mishap in the city, Sharad Kuveskar, acting president of the union said, “Since firemen work in eight-hour shifts, only those staff members who are not on duty will be allowed to sit on dharna. Our objective is to shake the administration out of its stupor, and not to trouble people.”
Thus, only about 300-350 staffers will be on strike at a time. The union has threatened to take up a much bigger protest in January if demands are not met.