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Mumbaikars brace for hassle as over 30k BEST buses go off roads today

Bus passengers to be hassled as 35,000 BEST staff begin indefinite strike over better pay, among other things, today

mumbai Updated: Jan 08, 2019 08:18 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan times
BEST,buses,BEST Kamgar Sena
The labour unions have also threatened to not allow any private buses on roads. (HT FILE)

With talks failing between the labour unions and management of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) on Monday, commuters may be inconvenienced because approximately 35,000 BEST employees will go on indefinite strike from today. Owing to a lack of coordination between authorities, no private buses have been arranged and other modes of public transport are likely to feel the pressure.

Leader of BEST workers’ union Shashank Rao said talks had failed and BEST’s general manager Surendrakumar Bagde did not attend the meeting. “A personnel department officer conducted the meeting, so nothing fruitful was expected from it,” Rao said. BEST Kamgar Sena has decided not to join the strike, but they will also not ply their buses. “We are not participating, but we have given our support,” said Suhas Samant, BEST committee member and leader of Best Kamgar Sena. Bagde did not respond to calls or text messages.

The state government has invoked provisions of the Maharashtra Essential Service Maintenance Act (MESMA) and an industrial court has restrained the unions from going on the strike, but BEST Sanyukta Kamgar Kruti Samiti (BSKKS), a joint action committee of labour unions, will go on strike from today. The unions’ demands include higher-grade pay, merging BEST’s budget with that of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and bonuses similar to those given to BMC staff.

The labour unions have also threatened to not allow any private buses on roads. BEST’s spokesperson said that they have written to Maharashtra State Road Transport Undertaking to arrange extra buses if required.

Generally, the state government allows private buses to ferry passengers during strikes. However, a senior official from the regional transport office (RTO) said it had not received any communication about arranging private buses for public convenience. “We will do all the needful things if required,” said Shekhar Channe, transport commissioner of Maharashtra, and confirmed no communication had come from BEST.

To avoid damages to its buses, BEST has put wire mesh on windshields of several buses, but no information has been released about the steps taken for the convenience of passengers.

Meanwhile, citizen’s forum Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi BEST (AMAB) declared its support to the BEST workers’ strike on Monday.

First Published: Jan 08, 2019 01:08 IST