Mumbaikars face hardships as BEST strike enters second day

Jan 09, 2019, 12:49 IST | PTI

Over 32,000 BEST employees went on an indefinite strike on Tuesday over various demands, including higher salaries

Mumbaikars face hardships as BEST strike enters second day
File Pic

Lakhs of commuters in Mumbai continued to face hardships on Wednesday as an indefinite strike called by the BEST, the city's civic transport undertaking, entered its second day.

Despite the Shiv Sena-affiliated union withdrawing from the protest, only five buses of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST), were plying on roads this morning, a BEST official said.

Over 32,000 BEST employees went on an indefinite strike on Tuesday over various demands, including higher salaries. The state government quickly moved to invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against the striking BEST employees, while its management asked them to end the stir and come to the negotiating table.

BEST's Kamgar Sena had late Tuesday evening said that 11,000 of its members would go back to work on Wednesday to mitigate woes of Mumbaikars. It had also said that nearly 500 buses were expected to run on Wednesday.

The Sena union's announcement to withdraw from the protest invited sharp criticism from BEST Workers' Union chief Shashank Rao who said the former had shown its "true character".

The BEST has a fleet of over 3,200 buses, which criss-cross the metropolis and also operate services in the neighbouring Thane district and Navi Mumbai. It is the second-biggest mode of transport in Mumbai after local trains, which ferry over 80 lakh passengers every day. "However, only five buses were plying on the city roads on Wednesday morning," a senior BEST official said.

The employees are demanding higher pay, merging budget of the loss-making transport undertaking with that of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), deliberations on new wage agreement, resuming appointments on compassionate grounds and a bonus equivalent to that of the civic body's employees. The protest by BEST employees coincided with the two-day nationwide bank strike called by trade unions to protest the government's "anti-worker" policies and labour reforms. The strike, declared illegal by the industrial court here, on Tuesday affected nearly 25 lakh daily commuters, who rely on BEST buses to reach their destinations.

A BEST staffer, who is a member of the Sena-affiliated union, expressed anger over his union's decision to withdraw from the strike. "The BEST Kamgar Sena should not have withdrawn its support to the strike. Our union leaders do not seen to have any sympathy with us," he told reporters on condition of anonymity. The BEST management is likely to send notices to the agitating workers on Wednesday.

"We are hopeful that our staffers will resume work, considering the hardships faced by commuters across the city," the official said. Meanwhile, commuters complained that they were inconvenienced by the ongoing protest.

Pramod Tamane, a Ghatkopar resident who travels to Wadala every day by BEST buses, sought to know how the government was planning to end the stalemate. "This is too much. How can a few people be allowed to paralyse the city? What is the government doing to address this? It seems busy preparing for elections and has forgotten about the innocent citizens," he said. Meanwhile, the Central Railways and the Western Railways have decided to operate additional suburban trains for the convenience of commuters.

Catch up on all the latest Mumbai news, crime news, current affairs, and also a complete guide on Mumbai from food to things to do and events across the city here. Also download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get latest updates

This story has been sourced from a third party syndicated feed, agencies. Mid-day accepts no responsibility or liability for its dependability, trustworthiness, reliability and data of the text. Mid-day management/mid-day.com reserves the sole right to alter, delete or remove (without notice) the content in its absolute discretion for any reason whatsoever

DISCLAIMER: mid-day and its affiliates shall have no liability for any views, thoughts and comments expressed on this article.

Mumbaikars distressed with BEST worker's Union strike

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK