Mumbai: BEST relay fast on as talks fail

Mumbai: The Members of the Sanyukta Kamagar Kruti Samiti, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport undertaking (BEST) union, went on an indefinite relay hunger fast at 8pm on Tuesday, after talks between the BEST administration and the union workers failed.

Going back on its assurance, the administration refused to consider the pending demands of the union, as part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in June.

The breakdown in talks occurred after the Shiv Sena party chief, Uddhav Thackeray, tried to mediate between workers' union and the BEST administration.

However, the call for a strike is pending. “The BEST administration should not try our patience; the talks have failed and our indefinite strike has begun, which is the mandate of the workers.

Moreover, we will take any decision regarding the strike; Uddhav Thackeray cannot dictate his terms to us,” said Shashank Rao, BEST union leader.

Rao is also participating in the relay fast. Prior to the relay hunger strike, the union workers had staged a two-day protest outside the Wadala depot – until Tuesday afternoon -- demanding that the administration should fulfil their demands.

The union leaders have given their wish list to the management. It includes their long pending demand of merger of the BEST and the BMC budgets; the other demands are Diwali bonus, clearing of the ex gratia dues and salary hike.

All these were mentioned in the MOU but have not yet been fulfilled. In January, this year, the BEST employees had gone on a nine-day strike.

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