The BEST bus strike in Mumbai today entered the fourth day with a stalemate prevailing between striking workers and the management of the civic-run transport undertaking.
Lakhs of commuters were inconvenienced with autorickshaws, taxis and private transport buses pressed into service proving inadequate to take on the passenger load catered to by the BEST buses on a daily basis.
All eyes are now on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against the bus strike in the Bombay High Court. The court is scheduled to hear the PIL today.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, whose party controls the BMC, the parent body of BEST, on Thursday held several rounds of talks with BEST union leaders in the presence of Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and BEST general manager Surendra Kumar but could not break the deadlock.
With the 3,200-odd bus fleet of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) off the roads, both Western and Central Railways ran extra services and several MSRTC buses were also deployed in the metropolis, said officials.
Over 32,000 BEST employees went on an indefinite strike on Tuesday over various demands, including higher salaries and merger of the BEST and BMC budgets.
The state government has already invoked the stringent Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against the striking BEST employees but the move has not been able to force workers to call off their strike.
Workers, meanwhile, said they are yet to get salaries for the month of December despite it being ten days into the new year.
Rajaram Satpute, a daily commuter from Kurla to Mahul, said, "I have been living in Mumbai for the past 40 years and I have never seen such a long BEST strike."
"I want to ask the chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis) what he is doing in Uttar Pradesh. This is the time when he should be in Mumbai," he said.