Strike by civic transport employees enters 4th day in Mumbai

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-11 17:05:54|Editor: Xiang Bo
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NEW DELHI, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- There seems to be no end to the harrowing experience of nearly 2.5 million commuters in India's financial capital Mumbai, as the indefinite strike by employees of the city's civic transport undertaking Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) entered the fourth day on Friday.

Efforts by employee leaders and officials to reach a consensus and end the strike remained inconclusive.

"Yesterday Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, whose party controls the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) held talks with the BEST union leaders in the presence of Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta and the BEST commissioner Surendra Kumar Bagde. The parleys went on for several hours but ended without breaking the ice," a BMC official said.

Nearly, 32,000 employees of BEST went on an indefinite strike early Tuesday over their demands that include higher wages and merger of budgets.

Hundreds of family members of BEST employees on Thursday held a protest march against the notices issued by BEST administration to around 2,000 employees asking them to vacate their official quarters for failing to report to the duty.

The officials said the strike has caused a lot of inconvenience to nearly 2.5 million people that commute through their buses daily.

"The officials have refused to accept our demands, so the strike will continue," BEST Workers Union President Shashank Rao told media.

"We apologize to everyone who is facing inconvenience due to the strike. However, we expect Mumbaikars (residents of Mumbai) to stand with BEST workers who have served them for years and are now fighting for their rights."

The BEST has over 3,200 buses in Mumbai and in the neighboring areas of Thane and Navi Mumbai.

According to officials, it is the second-biggest mode of transport ferrying passengers in the metropolis after the local trains.

Commuters complained that taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers resorted to overcharging in wake of the strike.

"With no BEST buses plying on roads since Tuesday, the auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers are charging much more than the normal fare," said Aarthi, a daily commuter, adding that "I wish the strike to end soon."

Public interest litigation was filed in the Bombay High Court on Thursday seeking a direction to BEST workers to end the strike. The petition is likely to come up for hearing on Friday.

Authorities have asked railway officials to operate additional suburban trains for the convenience of commuters.

Reports said Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation has added 40 more buses in the city for the commuters.