The Maharashtra government invoked Maharashtra State Essential Services Act, 2011 (MESMA) on Wednesday against 26,000 employees of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), who remained absent on duty for second consecutive day, inconveniencing lakhs of city commuters.
Issuing a press release in a bid to pressurise its employees, BEST undertaking said, "Section 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of MESMA has provisions about taking stern action against any person who
provokes an illegal strike or people who are participating it or trying to support them any other way."
All 4,200 odd buses of the BEST fleet went off the roads despite a directive from the high court to the drivers and conductors to stop striking and return to their jobs a day earlier.
For a second day, Mumbaikars were forced to walk or hunt for alternate modes of transport such as auto-rickshaws, taxis and other private vehicles to reach their desired destination.
School students, who are appearing for exams, had to face the worst due to the strike.
Long queues were seen outside railway stations for auto-rickshaws and taxis. Commuters also complained about refusal and overcharging by auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers. There were
complaints about bus operators charging Rs. 5-10 more than the usual fare as well.
Meanwhile, the School Bus Owner's Association (SBOA) has assured to bring 500 buses on roads to relief hassled passengers after dropping students in schools. They will charge Rs. 10 from each passenger, cleared SBOA.
The city also witnessed traffic jams as several citizens preferred to commute in their personal vehicles to avoid any hassles.
Labour union leader Sharad Rao had threatened a auto-rickshaw strike in support of BEST employees, if they were forced to call back strike. However, auto union sources said that they were unlikely to strike.
Employees of BEST traffic wing haven't reported to duty opposing computerised duty scheduling known as Canadian schedule prepared by a Canadian firm.
BEST administration is holding a dialogue with unions while transport authorities are on their toes making alternate arrangements for commuters.
Issuing notification as a part of standard operating procedure, the state government has allowed private vehicles such as buses, school buses, four-wheelers and tempos to ferry passengers till the BEST strike continues.