Photo by : BL Soni
Photo by : BL Soni

Mumbai: Although the BEST administration failed to give bonus to its employees, the undertaking is claiming that if they fulfil the striking workers’ demands, they are inviting an additional burden of Rs 900 crores. Ashish Chemburkar, BEST committee chairman, said on Wednesday, the day two of the strike, “The undertaking is already deep in the red and demands of the labour unions will burn a big hole in our pockets.”

The unions are demanding payment as per master grade to junior grade employees who joined BEST in 2006, besides more than Rs 8,000 interim relief as per the new wage agreement that was supposed to have come into effect in 2016.

Since resolving the issues of BEST employees is a challenging task without the civic body’s help, BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has asked the union leader to call off the strike and said that they will then discuss the demands, including the Seventh Pay Commission award.

But BEST employees do not trust the higher authorities and are unwilling to yield, said sources. How can the BEST administration cope with Rs 900 crore additional burden without taking the BMC’s help,” a member, who is a part of the deliberations, demanded.

A part of the problem is that the BEST workers’ union is not ready to engage the BMC chief in the meeting. Close to 13,000 BEST employees are expected to get benefits, if the demands are fulfilled. “If we heed their appeal to call off the strike, they will not fulfil our demands.

So, first they should accept our demands and then have a separate discussion on the 7th Pay Commission,” said Shashank Rao, union leader. Chemburkar said they had met the civic chief and he asked all of us to have a proper discussion which cannot be done in one sitting. “For the relief of the striking employees, the BMC will prepare a proposal which will be discussed in a meeting.

if the union leaders agree to attend it,” added Chemburkar. Two months ago, BEST paid Rs 2200 crore, including Rs 600 crore interest to the BMC. The undertaking is also saddled with a loan of Rs 2500 crore. The accumulated loss of BEST is Rs 1800 crore and the annual loss is Rs 720 crore, said sources.

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