Mumbai: BEST workers ditch trade union's lockdown call

Updated: May 19, 2020, 07:11 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

1,339 buses ply smoothly on Monday and facilitate the transportation of essential services workers across the city

BEST buses back on road at Sion. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
BEST buses back on road at Sion. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

With 1,339 BEST buses back on the roads on Monday, facilitating the transportation of those working to provide essential services across the city, general manager of the undertaking Surendra Bagade issued a public letter thanking all the employees for "reinforcing trust" in the organisation. In the letter he further said that he was confident that the workers would not participate in the lockdown called by the trade union.

However, speaking to mid-day, trade union leader of the BEST Sanyukta Kamgar Kruti Samiti (BSKKS) Shashank Sharad Rao said that he was happy that the employees put the nation before their lives and families despite the dangers and problems they face everyday, and ensure that medical and essential services staff reach their respective work places.

Rao, however, warned that the BEST administration was not doing enough to protect the workers. "It is shameful that the Mayor spoke about recruiting fresh candidates if BEST employees did not report to work. I think it's time for the state government to intervene and take responsibility for protecting BEST employees," he added. According to the BEST administration, so far a total of eight workers have died due to COVID-19. The Shiv Sena unions had also appealed to the drivers and conductors to not fall in the trap of the tricks and instigations of the trade union.

"BEST is fearless, but not careless. It is the responsibility of the organisation to protect its employees and it has been doing it in all possible ways," the letter by Bagade stated. The undertaking said that it had started to give jobs to the kin of the employees who died due to Coronavirus, and so far four people had been hired. On Monday, BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade said a total of 54 BEST employees had recovered from the COVID-19 infection and was discharged from hospital.

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