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Home > News > PTI

Mumbai: BEST unions call off strike

April 20, 2007 19:44 IST
Last Updated: April 20, 2007 20:57 IST

The 72-hour strike called by employees of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking was called off on Friday, much to the relief of lakhs of commuters.

Over 30 lakh bus communters in Mumbai heaved a sigh of relief as normal services resumed Friday evening.

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 media persons 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 April 18.

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 Rs 276.50 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 Rs 178.95 crore, Khobragade said.

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