Mumbai: The stay-home call issued by the BEST workers' union on May 15 went largely unheeded, with more than80 per cent of the buses of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking turning out on the roads on Monday.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the BEST has become the lifeline of the city, transporting essential service providers to and from work each day since the lockdown went into effect on March 25.
So far, there are 128 BEST employees down with corona, after eight more new cases emerged on Monday, including eight deaths, according to the chief medical officer of the undertaking, Dr. Anil Kumar Singhal.
In the light of the rising number of cases, last week, the BEST workers' union had appealed to its 40,000 employees to stay home from Monday and ensure 100 per cent lockdown in services, pending its demand for Rs 1 crore in medical insurance for every employee and their family.
However, on Monday, 1,542 buses, (almost 80 per cent of the lockdown fleet strength), hit the roads with 1,499 conductors and 1,642 drivers in attendance (almost 40 per cent of the staff strength). "
The BEST employees understand the gravity of the situation and they reported to work without no persuasion because they know their responsibility well," said BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade.
There was no agitation and things proceeded as scheduled. On Sunday evening, the BEST management had issued a statement that buses would plying as per the ongoing schedule on Monday.
"At our depot, the staff attendance was 100 per cent and there was no hindrance in our work," said a senior official from the Wadala depot. Later in the day, BEST GM Surendra Kumar Bagde issued a letter thanking all the employees for turning out in these trying times.
Meanwhile, BEST chief medical officer Dr Anil Kumar Singhal informed, eight more BEST staffers were tested positive of COVID-19 on Monday and two patients have shown symptoms of recovery due to which they have been shifted from ICU to general bed.