Over 32,000 employees of Mumbai''s civic transport undertaking (BEST)went on an indefinite strike on 8th January over various demands, including higher salaries, prompting the state government to invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against them.
At least 25 lakh passengers who take 3,000 BEST buses have been affected. The BEST management issued internal circulars warning employees of action if they participated in the "illegal" strike. The BEST employees are demanding renewal of their salary agreements that expired in 2016, rise in gratuity and bonus amount. They are also seeking immediate resolution of housing issues and merger of various undertakings of BEST or the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport. They want BEST and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) budgets to be merged.
The protest by the employees of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) coincided with the two-day nationwide strike called by trade unions to protest the government''s anti-worker policies and unilateral labour reforms. A BEST employee said they decided to go on strike as the BEST administration failed to come up with any concrete solution to resolve their long-pending demands.
The strike entered its fifth day on 12th January, the longest bus strike in Mumbai. The strike is set to continue as a meeting chaired by Maharashtra chief secretary Saturday between striking unions and the management of the civic-run transport undertaking failed to break the impasse. The government failed to respond to the demands of the striking workers put forward by the union.