The Bombay High Court asked BEST — the civic bus service — not to implement the new computerised schedule for drivers and conductors at the depots other than the one at the suburban Malad where it has been implemented on an experimental basis.
The BEST management and employees have been embroiled in a dispute over the new schedule. While employees claim that under the new schedule they have to work for more than 12 hours a day, the management says it will optimise the use of the workforce, ensure better frequency of buses and save Rs 32 crore for the undertaking annually.
The two sides had signed a Memorandum of Understanding by which it was decided that the new scheduling system would be implemented on an experimental basis at the New Malad depot from April, and after considering the shortfalls it would be implemented elsewhere from June 1.
However, on April 11, BEST Workers’ Union approached the High Court claiming that schedules were changed at Goregaon and Malwani depot too. BEST contended that the implementation of the new schedule at Malad would affect the depots in nearby areas to some extent.
“What is the extent of impact in other depots because of this experiment? Experiment by all means but don’t change the schedule of staff of other depots. If you are doing that then it means that you are starting the new schedule in other depots too. That is violative of the memorandum. Is it necessary to touch the schedule of staff from other depots too?” Justice N M Jamdar asked.
The court added that the BEST should conduct its experiment with minimum impact on other depots.
The court was also critical of the conduct of the union and chided it for resorting to strikes frequently. “Now that you have approached the court have some faith in it. Or else I will not entertain this petition,” Justice Jamdar said, adjourning the hearing to April 23.