By Neeraj Tiwari and Sharon Thomas
Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Workers’ Union general secretary Shashank Rao on Saturday said BEST buses will continue to be off the city’s roads, as the union is yet to receive any written proposal from the management of the undertaking to allay the concerns of the striking workers.
Sunday will be the sixth day of the strike called by over 30,000 BEST employees demanding, among other things, timely disbursal of their salaries and merger of the BEST’s budget with that of BMC.
On Saturday, a meeting was held between the BEST Kamgaar Samyukta Kriti Samiti — a collective outfit representing striking BEST labour unions — and the committee formed by the state government to resolve the deadlock.
Rao, who attended the meeting, said the workers once again placed their demands before the state-appointed committee comprising the chief secretary and secretaries of the urban development and transport departments.
Following directions of the Bombay High Court Friday, which was hearing a PIL filed by lawyer Datta Mane, the three-member panel was asked to meet with all stakeholders, including BMC, BEST and the striking workers Saturday. The court had directed the authorities to resolve the issue through dialogue and come up with a time-bound and comprehensive plan to upgrade the transport facility. The committee is likely to submit a report to the court at the next hearing on Monday.
Meanwhile, commuters reliant on BEST buses continued to suffer. Avinash Jain (52), a resident of Belapur, waited at the BEST bus stop outside Chembur station hoping the strike might be called off Saturday. He said he was waiting to take a direct bus to the BYL Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central to attend to his cousin who is admitted there. Jain, whose pocket was picked on a local train earlier in the day, said: “At old age, it’s difficult to commute in crowded trains. I am waiting for the service to resume.”
While private and MSRTC buses operated in some parts of suburbs, commuters were confused about the routes. “I heard the bus is operational only from select stops,” said Vandhana N (32).