The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) management has warned of strict disiplinary action against employees who join a proposed three-day strike from Monday to show solidarity with striking taxi and auto drivers who are protesting the state government’s plans to introduce six-seater taxis on city roads.
On June 12, the city’s autorickshaw drivers, along with taximen and BEST workers, led a protest from Byculla to Azad Maidan against the government’s plan of introducing four-wheeled quadricycles and six-seater taxis. The morcha was also against reduction in the maximum age of autorickshaws and unchanged fares. In case the government does not meet these demands, the unions threatened a statewide agitation, which is scheduled to happen from June 18 to 20.
Meanwhile, speaking about the proposed strike, Sharad Rao, president Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union, said, “The government is acting like a dictator against citizens by taking such decisions without discussions with the unions. They cannot take decisions on their own. Steps such as these will render thousands of poor drivers jobless, as everybody cannot afford to buy new quadricycles. The failure on the part of the government to revise fares by May 1 has already led to huge losses.”
However, according to an order by the industrial court dated November 7, 2012, BEST Workers’ Union is restrained from indulging in any coercive action or intimidation, thereby depriving citizens of electricity and transport services. Workers are also not allowed to engage in unfair labour practices, said a BEST official.
“After a departmental inquiry as per our standing orders, strict action will be taken against workers who take part in the strike,” said Virendra Bagul, BEST public relations officer. However, he maintained that BEST workers are mindful of their duty towards people and thus will not extend support to the strike. “Also, our employees do not have any grievances and are quite happy with the administration,” he added.
BEST plan for monsoon:
Meanwhile to reduce hassles commuters face during the rains, BEST will increase the frequency of buses in key locations across Mumbai. Also, as per the new monsoon plans, if the usual bus routes get waterlogged, buses will ply through new or safer routes.
During emergency situations, a total of 425 buses have been arranged which will run from areas including Chattrapati Shivaji Termius, Churchgate, Dadar, Sion, Kurla, Ghatkopar/Mulund, Andheri, Borivli, Anushaktinagar/Mankhurd and Navi Mumbai. In 25 bus depots, the depot managers, traffic officials, bus inspectors and supervisory staffs will be active in alleviating commuters’ woes.
BEST will also coordinate with the control rooms of the traffic police control cell, BMC, Mantralaya, Railways, Weather Bureau and the police. Commuters can use the following helpline numbers of the BEST for enquiry or registering complaint: (Toll free) 1800227550 or contact : 24143611, 24136883, 24137645