In a first, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking dismissed 14 of its drivers and conductors after they failed to report for work. The 14 were from the 2,000-odd employees issued chargesheets last month for absenteeism.
Employees were issued chargesheets after BEST failed to run its bus fleet at optimum capacity after Mumbai kick-started ‘Mission Begin Again’. On an average, only about 2,400 buses would hit the roads against BEST’s fleet of 3,600 buses owing to poor turnout of drivers and conductors.
BEST began dismissing these drivers and conductors from Monday, with 11 dismissed on June 22, two on June 23 and one on June 24 from different depots. Action is under way against another 300-odd employees. A senior official said the 14 drivers and conductors were dismissed after they failed to report to work for March, April and May despite several reminders. They were subsequently issued chargesheets and asked to report for a hearing. But they failed to turn up for the hearing, the official added.
While about 2,300 BEST buses catered to about three lakh essential workers during the lockdown, the passenger number increased to about six lakh later when private offices were allowed to work with 10 per cent staff. But BEST still managed to run about 2,400 buses due to staff shortage.
Since BEST initiated disciplinary action, employees have turned up for work and it now operates about 2,900 buses ferrying 7.89 lakh passengers per day. However, Shashank Rao, general secretory of BEST Sanyukt Kamgar Kruti Samiti, called BEST’s decision unfair. “Many of these employees were away in their hometowns owning to the lockdown and hence could not show up to work,” he said.
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