MSRTC to ferry essential workers in case of BEST staff amid lockdown

Updated: May 18, 2020, 07:35 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

The General Manager of the BEST says essential services' workers movement will not be hampered, but officials have asked MSRTC to keep vehicles ready

Trade unions have threatened a lockdown by BEST staff from today, so MSRTC buses may be used. Pic/Satej Shinde
Trade unions have threatened a lockdown by BEST staff from today, so MSRTC buses may be used. Pic/Satej Shinde

While there was no clarity from the BEST Undertaking on how they intend to handle the lockdown announced by trade unions for workers' safety on Monday, with the General Manager simply stating that essential workers' movement will not be hampered, its officials have asked the MSRTC to keep buses ready. Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) officials said they had kept around 400 buses ready.

The BEST was in silent mode as General Manager Surendra Bagde did not respond, and the BEST public relations department said they were waiting for directions from him. At last count in BEST, there were 120 COVID-19 positive cases, eight deaths due to it and 50 people had been discharged so far.

BEST officials said they were confident that employees would not participate in the lockdown, but they have requested MSRTC officials to keep a back up of buses ready. In an internal communication to staff, Bagde has said, "At no point in time, essential services involving medical staff like doctors, nurses, policemen and all other such services will be affected."

In the absence of local trains, BEST buses have become the lifeline of the city ferrying essential workers. However, with rising number of COVID-19 cases among employees, BEST trade unions have alleged that not enough is being done about workers' safety. Trade union leaders said they had received no response from BEST Undertaking about how they would address the problem.

BEST officials said there are no complaints from staffers who are getting special allowance for COVID-19 duties, proper protection and medical care and only are few elements were instigating the employee lockdown.

BEST officials also said they had started giving jobs to the relative of an employee who died on duty due to COVID-19. Four such jobs had been given till Sunday.

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