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BEST bus drivers, conductors call off strike


BEST bus drivers and conductors on Wednesday withdrew their flash strike after they arrived at a solution with the management 
BEST-BUSMumbai: BEST bus drivers and conductors on Wednesday withdrew their flash strike after they arrived at a solution with the management over implementation of the new computerised scheduling system.

Thousands of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus drivers and conductors had gone on a flash strike yesterday against the new system and had refused to report to work despite an order from the Bombay High Court.

A meeting was today chaired by Maharashtra Chief Secretary J S Saharia with BEST General Manager Om Prakash Gupta and union head Sharad Rao.

Saharia said bus services will resume immediately as they have withdrawn their strike. “My first priority was that they should withdraw their strike as it had caused tremendous inconvenience to commuters,” he added.

Following their refusal to resume work yesterday, BEST today again moved a division bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah against the strike.

The court was later informed by BEST counsel M P S Rao that the strike has been called off following meetings between the management and union members.

“The matter has been resolved. The implementation of the new computerised scheduling system has been postponed till June 1. However, as pilot project the system will be implemented at the Malad depot to see what difficulties arise,” Rao said.

The High Court accepted the statement and said, “Since the parties have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, we direct the BEST union to issue instructions to all its members to resume work immediately. The workers shall also be asked not resort to such strikes in future.”

“We do not want to encourage such strikes. In fact, we wanted the state government to take action against the workers under the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA). People are inconvenienced. But we wanted the issue to be worked out,” the court noted.

The unions decided to go on flash strike as they are opposed to the 12-13-hour work schedule for 20 per cent of the staffers and want the earlier manual system of scheduling to continue.

BEST said the new computerised scheduling system will optimise the use of workforce, ensure better frequency of buses and save Rs 32 crore for the undertaking annually.

The BEST runs a fleet of 4,200 buses and ferries 40 lakh passengers in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Mira Road daily. It has around 22,000 drivers/conductors who ply buses on more than 500 routes daily.


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