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BEST unions put off strike in Mumbai after court restrains them

The unions have opposed the BEST’s decision to hire 450 smaller buses from private contractors.

mumbai Updated: Feb 15, 2018 10:48 IST
Kailash Korde
Kailash Korde
Hindustan Times
mumbai news,BEST,BEST union
The BEST Workers’ Union, which is a legal union, also moved the court.(Representational Image/HT File)

Lakhs of Mumbaiites can heave a sigh of relief as the joint action committee of labour unions in the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) has postponed its indefinite strike after an industrial court directive on Wednesday. The unions have opposed the BEST’s decision to hire 450 smaller buses from private contractors.

BEST Sanyukta Kamgar Kriti Samiti (BSKKS), the joint action committee of the BEST labour unions, had threatened that all employees will go on an indefinite strike from Thursday to oppose the administration’s decision to hire buses on wet-lease from private contractors. Under this type of arrangement, buses are leased from private contractors along with driver and maintenance. The unions fear that it will lead to staff cut.

The joint action committee announced its decision after a meeting of all union leaders late in the evening. The leaders also met the BEST management and BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta. But the talks remained inconclusive. However, the BEST management had moved to the industrial court requesting it to restrain unions from going on strike. The BEST Workers’ Union, which is a legal union, also moved the court.

In its decision, the court restrained the unions from going on the strike till the next hearing which is scheduled on March 5. It also directed the BEST administration not to sign any agreement with the contractors for hiring of the buses. At the same time, the court asked the management to serve notices to other unions asking them to refrain from strike till March 5, 2018.

“The strike has been postponed and will not take place on February 15. We have postponed the strike as a directive from the court has restricted the BEST management to sign any agreement with the contractors till the next hearing,” said Shashank Rao, leader of BEST Workers’ Union. According to other union leaders they might announce strike from March 7, 2018.

With a fleet of 3,300 buses, the BEST ferries around 28 lakh passengers in the city. It also acts as a feeder service to Mumbai’s lifeline, the suburban train service. Hence, as the strike has been postponed it is seen as big relief for lakhs of suburban commuters.

The BEST administration’s personnel department issued a circular, asking all heads of departments to not sanction leave from February 15 unless urgent.

First Published: Feb 15, 2018 01:40 IST