BEST bus strike hits office-goers, students in Mumbai

Jan 08, 2019, 11:10 IST | mid-day online correspondent

The workers are seeking merger of BEST with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation(BMC).

BEST bus strike hits office-goers, students in Mumbai
Bharat Bandh: BEST bus strike

Transport bodyworkers are seeking a merger of BEST with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and also demanding a renewal in their pay agreement. Nearly 29,000 employees of BEST(Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport) began an indefinite strike from Monday midnight to press for their demands. 

Unions of workers demanded a renewal in their salary agreements that expired two years ago. They also pressed for immediate resolution of housing issues and merger of various undertakings of BEST. The workers also seek a merger of BEST with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation BMC).

As per BEST buses have gone off the road from early Tuesday morning, following an indefinite strike call was given by the workers’ union.

Of the 1,812 buses scheduled for morning service at 27 bus depots during early peak hours, not a single bus left the depot this morning, a BEST spokesperson told mid-day.

The strike had badly affected the city’s over 35 lakh commuters, including office-goers and students.

MSRTC spokesperson said they are operating additional city buses between Thane and Mantralaya, Kurla Chembur, Dadar Mantralaya and CSMT-Mantralaya.

BEST committee chairman Ashish Chemburkar told mid-day he has scheduled a meeting with BMC Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta to discuss the trade union's various demands and resolve the issue. 

According to ANI, members of Central Trade Unions are holding protests & block commuters in Bhubaneswar demanding minimum wages and social security schemes among others.

Amidst all this, the common man was affected the most. While some are angry at BEST, some went ahead to take digs at the situation. 

With its employees having gone on strike, the cash-strapped BEST is likely to face a loss of Rs 3 crore per day, a source said.

Shashank Rao, leader of the BEST Workers' Union, which has called the strike, alleged that the transport body's administration showed a lackadaisical approach in resolving the stalemate and that the employees had no option but to go on strike.

Yesterday, an industrial court had declared the strike as illegal and restrained the labour unions and BEST staffers from going ahead with their protest. But, Rao said they had not received the copy of the court order till they went on strike.

Meanwhile, some commuters opposed the strike, saying it was always the passengers who bore the brunt of the feud between the BEST administration and its employees. "Why torture innocent passengers? What wrong have we done to BEST employees and their management?" asked Anita Nayak, a Ghatkopar resident who commutes by bus every day to go for work in suburban Mulund.

The Amchi Mumbai-Amchi Best (AMAB), an independent forum of public transport enthusiasts, took a neutral stand and said the matter should be resolved as soon as possible. "No doubt commuters are going to face hardships, but it is also true that the BEST workers have also been not paid enough. No harm if BEST is merged with the BMC," a member of the forum said.

BEST management has issued internal circulars, warning employees of stringent action if they participated in the strike. It has also threatened to invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against them.

Bharat Bandh Live Updates: BEST, Trade Union Strikes Hit Common Man Hard

(with inputs from agencies)

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