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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

BEST tells 2,000 employees to vacate their Mumbai quarters

300 others sent notices under essential services act; unions call it a pressure tactic

mumbai Updated: Jan 10, 2019 08:24 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Nearly 29 lakh regular BEST bus commuters were troubled for a second day running after unions began a strike over their demands, including better pay, from Monday midnight
Nearly 29 lakh regular BEST bus commuters were troubled for a second day running after unions began a strike over their demands, including better pay, from Monday midnight(HT)

As the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) staff strike entered into its second day on Wednesday, the management served notices to 300 employees under the Maharashtra Essential Services and Maintenance (MESMA) Act 2012, a first since 2007. The management also served eviction notices to 2, 000 other employees residing in BEST’s Bhoiwada and Parel quarters, which saw families stopping officials from entering the premises.

The unions termed the management’s crackdown as pressure tactics and that it would not end the strike, and according to some officials, even escalate the situation. Shashank Rao, leader of BEST Workers Union, warned of a protest rally at Wadala depot on Thursday, stating that the management’s move was an attempt to kill the labour movement.

Nearly 29 lakh regular commuters of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses were troubled for a second day running after labour unions had called for a strike over their demands, including better pay, from Monday midnight. Despite better relief measures compared to day one with more state buses and permission for private buses to ferry passengers, commuters still had to deal with overcharging autorickshaw and taxi drivers, crowding in trains or traffic snarls. The BEST, which has 3,337 buses, is the second largest mode of transport in the city after the local train network.

The state government on January 4 after the intimation from the BEST management had invoked MESMA and had asked the employees not to go on a strike. According to the act, it is unlawful to deny essential services, which affect the daily routines of citizens.

The notice served by the management to the employees stated, “The state government prohibited the strike from January 4, 2019. The industrial court in an order dated January 7 was pleased to grant interim relief and restrained the unions from going on strike from the midnight of 7.1.2019, till a decision on the main complaint.”

The notice further stated: “In spite of this, you remained absent from work without intimation or prior sanction of leave on 08.01.2019. As you have participated in an illegal strike, you are in unauthorised occupation of the tenement allotted to you. You are called upon to vacate the tenement and hand over the tenement, failing which eviction proceedings will be initiated against you”. The notice was served by the senior personnel manager.

“The serving of notices was a hasty step and can easily backfire for the management,” said a senior BEST official. In 2007, after a similar notice was served, the management was forced to withdraw the order fearing escalation from unions.

Rao said that employees are fighting for their rights. “BEST employees are fighting for their rights and the management is serving them notices. This is unfortunate. However, the families of the employees gave a befitting reply to the management and did not allow them to enter the premises. The family of the employees will take out a protest march as well. If there is any dismissal of any employee, the situation will only further deteriorate,” said Shashank Rao.

First Published: Jan 10, 2019 01:09 IST