Commuters using the bus could have a hard time on Saturday, July 25, and on August 1, after the union of BEST workers threatened a protest if their members are forced to accept the duty schedule prepared with the help of Canadian software.
The BEST Workers Union — the largest union of BEST employees — is also opposing the administration’s plan of running buses without conductors between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Nariman Point and between Churchgate and Nariman Point.
The move could have helped reduce debt-ridden BEST’s operational cost.
“The distribution of the daily roster for August was commissioned on Friday, but a majority of conductors and drivers have refused to accept it. Our members may start their agitation from Saturday if they are forced to accept the duties. Similarly, if our members are not given the duty of their choice there could be flash strike on August 1,” said Udaykumar Ambonkar, president of BEST worker’s union.
For commuters, this could mean a repeat of the April 1 and 2, 2014, flash strike, when the entire fleet of 4,200 BEST buses went off the roads, as none of the conductors or drivers operated the buses.
Suhas Samant, president of BEST Kamgar Sena, said, “We have spoken to the management and they have agreed to withdraw the longer duty hours from five depots where they were implemented. This has been explained to the workers and they have agreed to cooperate.”
When contacted, Jagdish Patil, general manager BEST said, “The scheduling through the software is in the interest of workers, as it doesn’t involve any human influence. The software allots duties logically and the majority of the workers are happy with it, as there is no bias. We have explained these to workers and many have agreed to cooperate with us. I appeal to the others to contribute in improving the efficiency of BEST.”