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After the nine-day long strike, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday finally interfered and gave a one-hour ultimatum to the employees of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) to end their strike and join the work.
BEST (Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport) strike matter: Bombay High Court directs BEST union to call off their strike. The Court also tells them to announce within one hour that they have called off the strike. pic.twitter.com/iomxWUbmDw— ANI (@ANI) January 16, 2019
The Bombay HC’s direction came on Tuesday after it was informed by the BEST that it was ready to implement the redressal measure suggested by the state government's high-powered committee on giving an interim pay hike to its employees.
Headed by the chief secretary, the high-powered committee has suggested, inter alia, that subject to the strike being withdrawn, as an interim measure, workers are given a '10-step increase' in salary for nearly 15,000 employees in a time-bound manner."
"However, the proposal was rejected by BEST workers' union leader Shashank Rao yesterday after he convened a meeting regarding this at the Wadala Bus depot," he added.
More than 32,000 BEST employees have been on strike since January 8 over a number of their demands, including revision of pay grade for junior level employees, pay hike, and merger of the budgets of loss-making BEST and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), leaving more than 25 lakh commuters in trouble
It is the longest such protest in the history of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST).
A senior BEST official said, "The high-powered committee is giving serious thought to merge both the budgets. A decision on this is likely to come soon.”
The Maharashtra government had last week invoked the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against the striking employees.
However, no strong action, besides sending them notices to evict the houses provided to them by the BEST, has been taken by the government so far.
MNS leader Sandip Deshpande said, “We support the strike and the BEST employees. Their demands are just. If those demands are not met, the MNS will launch a protest.”