BEST strike called off, services resume immediately

BEST strike called off, services resume immediately
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First Published: Fri, Apr 20 2007. 08 16 PM IST
Updated: Fri, Apr 20 2007. 08 16 PM IST
Mumbai: Over 30 lakh bus communters in the city heaved a sigh of relief as normal services resumed on 20 April evening when unions of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) called off a two-day-old strike.
The strike was called off following discussions between senior BEST officials and union leaders at Electric House, the organisation’s headquarters in south Mumbai.
The unions agreed to end the strike after BEST Committee chairman Sanjay Potnis assured protesting employees that their demands for payment of interim dearness allowance and revised salary scales would be considered, BEST sources said.
Potnis assured union leaders that the management would not adopt a “vindictive” approach towards workers who joined the strike.
However, BEST plans to retain 750 employees who were recruited in a day after the strike began. The unions too said they would not object to the new recruitment.
BEST General Manager Uttam Khobragade told reporters that the recruitments were done as “there was a need to send a strong message to the striking staff”.
Immediately after the meeting with BEST officials, the union leaders, including Sharad Rao, Suhas Samant and Sunil Ganacharya, rushed to Azad Maidan in south Mumbai to apprise workers about the outcome of the parleys.
Bus services resumed soon after, union leaders said.
Earlier, they had discussions with Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and Mayor Shubha Raul.
BEST employees unions had launched a 72-hour strike from midnight of 18 April.
Khobragade had recently criticised BEST Workers Union general secretary Sharad Rao for his allegation that the organisation’s management was trying to delay negotiations with the union on the payment of interim dearness allowance.
“Rao claimed that the BEST undertaking, despite having earned a profit of Rs276.50 crore, was not ready to clear the dearness allowance of the workers,” he said.
However, the audited financial balance sheet for 2005-06 showed BEST had incurred a net loss of Rs178.95 crore, Khobragade said.
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First Published: Fri, Apr 20 2007. 08 16 PM IST