The workers union of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) is set to move the Bombay High Court, challenging the industrial court order that allowed the transport undertaking to operate conductorless buses in Mumbai.
Earlier in November, BEST had initiated a pilot project, running conductorless buses on some routes, connecting Churchgate and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus station with some commercial areas of south Mumbai.
On Thursday, more conductorless bus services were pressed into service on as many as 35 different routes of suburban Mumbai, as per the court order. Members of the BEST union said the management was yet to show them a copy of the actual order of the industrial court.
“We were only informed about the order verbally, we requested the management to show us the order copy but they haven't produced any document yet,” said J M Kahar, general secretary of the BEST Kamgar Sangathan.
Kahar informed, the union had already initiated the process of challenging the court order as this step is a threat to the workforce and will result in job cuts in the future.
Meanwhile, the BEST management also confirmed, by February, hundred more conductorless buses will be rolled into service.
“BEST presently has 10,500 conductors on its payroll. Now if they run more conductorless buses, there will be a surplus of manpower. That's when they will remove them from service,” said Kahar.
Echoing his sentiment, BEST committee member and Congress corporator Bhushan Patil said, instead of accepting such contentious policies, the BEST must work on bringing in policies to generate revenue.
“The BEST has not paid gratuity to the conductors. They are yet to upgrade the ticket-vending machines and now, in this situation, if they roll out such policies, this will break the morale of the conductors,” said Patil.
However, a senior official of the undertaking maintained, the surplus workers would be transferred to work on the AC buses and mini-buses which would be rolled out soon.
“The management will transfer the surplus workforce to the new AC bus routes, that we will roll out by March. We have frozen recruitment and this is the only way we can manage the human resources we have,” said the official.