Since June 8, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has dismissed over 50 of its employees and issued “chargesheets” to another 4,000 as disciplinary action against them for not reporting to work.
The dismissals were described as a move towards privatisation by Shashank Rao, general secretary of BEST Sanyunkt Kaamgar Kruti Samiti (BSKKS).
Officials said the BEST management is first issuing chargesheets to the employees. Even after that if they failed to report to work, they are being sent dismissal notices, asking them to appear for an internal inquiry. “Only those who fail to appear for the inquiry are being dismissed,” said a senior official from BEST.
With the employees having to appear for these inquiries at various depots, they have written to the management, urging that the inquiries be held via video conference in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Social distancing norms are not maintained while these inquiries are conducted. Once such a meeting had to be cancelled as two persons attending it were showing symptoms of Covid-19,” said a BSKKS member.
Rao said he will challenge the dismissals. “The BEST administration wants to remove its employees so that it can move towards privatisation,” he alleged.
He added that many BEST employees have returned to their native places and had informed the management about the same. “Those who did not report to work had genuine crisis at their homes,” said Rao.
The union, meanwhile, has started a 24×7 helpline for the workers to seek medical interventions. BEST at present runs 3,222 buses and ferries close to 10.22 lakh passengers every day. ENS
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