HC refuses to stay duty schedule  at three bus depots in Mumbai

The BEST management claims it will  optimise the use of manpower, improve    efficiency and save Rs 32 crore annually, the employees say the move will compel them to work for over 12 hours

Mumbai : In a setback to BEST Workers’ Union, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to stay the implementation of the new duty scheduling system at Malad depot and resultant change in schedule at Goregaon and Malwani depots.

Justice Nitin Jamdar refused to grant the relief while hearing a petition filed by the union challenging the order of the industrial court. “I do not find that a prima facie case has been made out for grant of interim relief. Neither, the balance of convenience is in favour of the petitioner (union). The prayer for interim relief is accordingly rejected,” observed Justice Jamdar.

The transport body’s efforts to implement the new programmes have been met with strong opposition from the very beginning. While the BEST management claims it will optimise the use of manpower, improve efficiency and save Rs 32 crore annually, the employees say the move will compel them to work for over 12 hours.

Neeta Karnik, counsel for the union, argued that duty schedule which was to be implemented from April 1, should not be given effect to.

Chiding the union, the judge observed “It appears that the only interest of the union is to somehow see that the experiment does not proceed, even though agreeing for the same.” After going through the data submitted by the BEST with regard to the number of buses, bus routes, conductors and drivers, which was opposed by the union, the HC noted that: “It is not possible to simply brush aside all the facts and figures which have been placed on record by the Undertaking as incorrect and false, as sought to be contended by the union.”

Even the union had conceded that in Mumbai’s traffic, the travel time could increase due to traffic jams and even processions and such other eventualities.

“Once the experiment is allowed to go through till June 1, some discernible data will be available to both the sides and then as per the consultations contemplated and information, decision can be taken,” observed justice Jamdar.

The judge observed that the MoU came to be signed as a result of the situation created by the mass absenteeism by the union. “Therefore, considering this, it cannot be said that there is any prima facie case made out by the union for stay of the implementation of the schedule at the above-mentioned three depots,” observed justice Jamdar.                 -PTI

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