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Mumbaikars relax! BEST drivers, conductors assure HC they won't strike work

BEST employees assure Bombay High Court that they will not strike work or remain absent from duty to protest implementation of the new scheduling system at the Malad depot

Bus drivers and conductors of BEST on Friday assured the Bombay High Court that they would not strike work or remain absent from duty to protest against implementation of a new computerised scheduling system at the suburban Malad bus depot on an experimental basis.

President of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) Workers' Union Uday Amonkar gave this assurance to Justice N M Jamdar, who was hearing a petition filed by the Union challenging the BEST management's decision to implement the new scheduling system at the Malad depot.

Appearing for the Union, advocate Neeta Karnik argued that under the garb of trying out the new system at the Malad depot as a pilot project, the management has changed the schedule of drivers and conductors even at surrounding Goregaon and Malwani depots.

BEST counsel Kevic Setalvad said the new system cannot be implemented at one depot on a stand-alone basis and adjustments would have to be made on schedules of nearby depots.

"BEST has altered only six routes from Goregaon and Malwani depots, while 182 conductors and 176 drivers from these two depots have been transferred to Malad depot due to which some change in the schedule of other employees is bound to happen," he said.

The court accepted this contention and said, "Union members have to try out the new schedule and participate in the experiment. You (workers) are apprehending problems even before giving the experiment a try. Ultimately, they (BEST) are the employers. If they are trying something new, employees have to co-operate. You (workers) cannot make high demands and make it an issue of ego."

"There appears to be substance in BEST's submission that the experiment cannot be on a stand-alone basis. It is not possible to ascertain the exact impact of the schedule even before trying it out," the court said.

Posting the petition for further hearing on April 16, the court directed BEST to file a detailed affidavit in reply to the petition.

Last week, BEST bus drivers and conductors had gone on a flash strike in protest against the new system.

They resumed work only after a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between them and the management that the new system would be first tried at the Malad depot from April 7 before being implemented in other depots from June 1 after considering its shortfalls.

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