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HC issues notices to Maha Govt, BMC and BEST workers union

Friday, January 11, 2019
By Philip Varghese. Photograph by Azad Shrivastav

The State Government moved quickly to invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against the striking BEST employees

Even as the strike called by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking continued for the third day yesterday, the Bombay High Court issued notices to the Maharashtra Government, Birhanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and BEST Workers' Union on the issue.

This comes after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by lawyer Datta Mane who had prayed to the court to pass interim orders directing BEST workers to immediately call off their on-going strike.

Commuters continued to suffer yesterday as BEST buses are also considered the lifeline, with equal importance as the trains for the city. Many commuters were forced to travel in taxis who were taking undue advantage of the plight of commuters at major junctions like Byculla, Dadar, Wadala, Andheri.

Over 32,000 BEST employees are on an indefinite strike since Tuesday over various demands, including higher salaries and merger of the budget of the loss-making undertaking with that of the BMC.

The State Government had moved quickly to invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against the striking BEST employees, while its management asked them to end the stir and come to the negotiating table.

The BEST administration had on Wednesday cracked the whip, issuing notices to over 2,000 staffers to vacate houses provided by the undertaking. It also held dialogue with BEST Workers' Union leader Shashank Rao, but it did not yield a positive outcome.

The petitioner has urged the court to direct the state authorities to constitute a committee to look into BEST workers' demands. Claiming that the strike is causing inconvenience to commuters in the city, Mane had sought an urgent hearing.

After hearing the matter, the bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice N. M. Jamdar posted the matter for further hearing till today.

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