No social distancing maintained at BEST depots; staff made to rest in small cabins

Updated: May 16, 2020, 07:55 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

The BEST has to be completely transparent and forthcoming about the measures it has instituted to ensure the safety of its employees

There is zero social distancing maintained at the depots
There is zero social distancing maintained at the depots

BEST workers unions and transport activists have alleged that the staff working on buses are being made to take breaks and rest at depots in small cabins with no social distancing. With 100 positive cases, the BEST administration is yet to begin negotiations with unions.

"There has been no response so far on any front. The Mayor has given a statement to the media stating that only medical employees are eligible to get insurance, which is unfair," Shashank Sharad Rao, leader of the joint forum BEST Sanyukta Kamgar Kruti Samiti (BSKKS) said. "We are alarmed at the number of BEST workers testing positive for COVID-19 and at the reports we have received of their working conditions. The BEST has to be completely transparent and forthcoming about the measures it has instituted to ensure the safety of its employees. It must also promptly report any cases of infection to other employees and to the public. This is of extreme importance to ensure that those who have contracted the disease are treated and family members and co-workers of the patient are protected from the infection," transport activist Vidyadhar Date from Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi BEST (AMAB) said.

Another member of AMAB, Hussain Indorewala said that a critical safety principle at the time of an epidemic is to encourage workers to self-report as soon as they experience symptoms.

'Doing everything possible'

BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade said they were doing everything possible in their capacity to address problems. "We are installing plastic sheets to segregate bus drivers' cabins and providing face shields to working employees," he said. As of May 9, 10,972 employees had been examined of which 6,000 were given vitamin tablets. Of these 1,500 high-risk employees have been asked to stay at home and 600-plus low-risk ones quarantined, he added.

"We had been warning since day one and the administration has not been taking it seriously. We had also organised a 'Demand Day' on April 21 seeking the safety of BEST employees, appealing to the undertaking," BEST Kamgar Sanghatna general secretary Jagnayaran Kahar said.

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