A sit-in agitation initiated by a couple at Azad Maidan on July 31 is the reason behind the strike by wet lease bus drivers of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), which entered its third day on Friday with 1,300 buses staying off road.
The sit-in protest is being spearheaded by BEST contractual worker Raghunath Khajurkar and his wife Pradnya, who has sought information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act about the Undertaking’s operations. Their protest gained momentum when over 2,000 contractual drivers lent their support.
The strike has garnered significant attention on social media, with employees from two depots in the eastern suburbs joining in solidarity, and the number of striking drivers increasing to several thousand by Thursday. However, the absence of clear leadership in the agitation has left BEST officials and labour unions uncertain about whom to negotiate with. Unfortunately, BEST General Manager Vijay Singhal's visit abroad has complicated the situation further.
BEST officials expressed helplessness, acknowledging that private operators are equally at a loss regarding the situation. The striking drivers, who are not direct employees of private bus operators but work on contract, have presented a challenge for dialogue.