The key issue raised by the unions was to start negotiations for a fresh wage agreement and charter of demands.
Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) workers’ union Friday conducted a poll of thousands of BEST employees across 27 bus depots in Mumbai to arrive at a consensus whether or not to go on an indefinite strike from Saturday midnight.
BEST workers’ union leader Shashank Rao said that a section of BEST workers from the rival union tried to disrupt the polling process at a few depots. He said that they even registered a non-cognisable police complaint in connection with the incident that took place Friday morning at the Wadala depot.
Mr Rao added that similar attempts had been made, earlier, as well, to thwart a similar process. “Friday afternoon at the Gorai and Goregaon depots, attempts were made to disrupt the election process but we got support from the local police, which ensured that the poll went uninterrupted,” he said.
The police was deployed in large numbers outside depots where BEST workers, especially drivers and conductors, came forward to cast their votes in connection with the indefinite strike.
BEST committee chairman Anil Patankar pleaded with the workers not to go on strike as it would inconvenience thousands of commuters who were now returning to the BEST fold after the fare cuts.
The Shiv Sena union was not part of the call for a strike and had been meeting staffers since Thursday evening to persuade them to stay away from the poll.
A senior union member said that the administration planned to hold talks with the Sena-backed BEST Kamgar Sena over the next two days, and with other smaller unions on August 26.
The key issue raised by the unions was to start negotiations for a fresh wage agreement and charter of demands. “It is just the administration’s way of biding time. We don’t see any solution emerging and hence, we are going ahead with the election,” a senior union official said.
The BEST serves over 30 lakh passengers every day and has been undergoing a series of reforms aimed at improving ridership, which had been declining over the years.