Mumbai, October 22, 2023 – In a momentous chapter in the history of BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) services, a momentous decision has been reached, marking the end of a prolonged conundrum regarding the employment status of 725 contractual workers in BEST’s Electric Supply Department.
BEST services are often referred to as the lifeline of Mumbai, second only to the local train network. Yet, ensuring the seamless provision of BEST services to all citizens had raised numerous questions, with a spotlight on the 725 contractual electric supply workers. The core issue revolved around their demand for permanent employment status, a battle they had been waging for an enduring 16-year period.
To address this matter, on October 16, 2023, the 725 contractual electric supply workers from BEST’s Electric Supply Department took to Azad Maidan in a hunger strike. In a decisive move to resolve their grievances and terminate the hunger strike, a pivotal meeting was convened between the Shramik Utkarsh Sabha, a prominent union associated with the Electric Union, and the workers. On this very first day of fasting, Member of Legislative Council, Prasad Lad addressed the workers’ concerns, putting an end to their hunger strike.
Of the 725 contractual workers involved in the BEST initiative, a significant majority, approximately 90%, hail from Marathi backgrounds. Instead of offering temporary positions to the offspring of retired BEST employees in the Electric Department of BEST, these individuals were engaged as contractual workers. Consequently, their struggle to attain permanent employment status had endured for 16 long years.
After a thorough understanding of the workers’ demands, MLC, Prasad Lad facilitated a meeting with the pertinent authorities. Following this crucial dialogue, the Municipal Commissioner and General Manager have committed to expediting the process of granting permanent employment status to the 123 contractual workers of BEST, an initiative undertaken through the Shramik Utkarsh Sabha.
Furthermore, it has been affirmed that 600 more workers will be provided with temporary positions, with details regarding the transition to permanent employment contingent upon future job vacancies. MLC Prasad Lad has expressed his unwavering confidence that the unity among these workers will culminate in a successful resolution.
In the words of MLC Prasad Lad, “Ensuring the welfare of workers is the foremost responsibility of our workers’ union, the Shramik Utkarsh Sabha, and the BEST Worker’s Union. Under the esteemed leadership of Uddhav Thackeray, the BEST workers have never before been granted such a significant measure of justice, as the contractual workers in BEST are now. We have diligently undertaken formal efforts to address this issue, which had lingered unresolved for 16 long years.”