Due to a banking problem at the civic-run Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking, about 40,000 of its employees have earned a large portion of their salaries in the form of coins in recent months, putting an unwelcome heft on their remuneration.
The business, which runs a 4,000-bus transportation system and provides electricity to 10 lakh people in the city’s island area, has been receiving a large number of coins in exchange for ticket fares as well as cash for power bills.
After a contract with a leading private sector bank expired last year, senior BEST committee member Sunil Ganacharya said the BEST has a large amount of money in its coffers, but no bank is willing to take it from the undertaking’s 100-150 collection points. Some BEST workers, who did not want to be mentioned, said that obtaining a portion of the remuneration in coins was always a possibility.
“However, the proportion has now risen. My last paycheck was Rs 11,000 in cash and coins, while the previous month’s coin-cash sum was Rs 15,000. We normally get Rs 1,000 each, mostly in Rs 2 and Rs 5 coins and Rs 10 notes, with some Rs 10, Rs 50, Rs 100, and Rs 500 notes thrown in for good measure. The remainder is deposited into our bank accounts directly “a worker stated.
Mr. Ganacharya bemoaned the situation, claiming that the ‘coins as wage’ system have resulted in some workers defaulting on their EMIs and other issues.
“A number of BEST employees live in Ambarnath, Badlapur, Panvel, or Virar-Vasai and commute by suburban locals. Carrying too much cash, particularly in coins, is inconvenient and dangerous “he said
He went on to say that the BEST committee had approved an agreement with a private bank for cash collection in January, but that some issues were delaying the start of the pick-up mechanism.
According to a BEST conductor, they try to deal with this “heavy” problem by exchanging coins with passengers and shopkeepers, who need large quantities to operate their daily operations.
Shashank Rai, BEST Workers’ Union chief, told news agency Press Trust of India that the process of giving coins as part of salary was inappropriate and that the inconvenience caused to the employees had been communicated to the undertaking’s administration on several occasions.
Meanwhile, BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade said that an agreement with a bank will be signed in two to three days, after which the bank will begin collecting cash.