Bus services of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking were affected at its 12 depots after drivers of a few more private bus operators hired by the public transport body joined the ongoing strike on Thursday, officials said.
As many as 921 buses of three private operators from 12 depots of BEST were off roads, affecting bus operations from there since morning, a BEST spokesperson told PTI.
On Wednesday, drivers of the private bus operator SMT, also known as the Daga Group, went on a flash strike at the Ghatkopar and Mulund depots of BEST in the eastern suburbs over their demand for a salary hike, affecting services on several bus routes.
The protest over salary hike and other demands intensified as drivers of other private operators, namely Mateshwari and Tata Motors, also joined the strike on Thursday morning, the officials said. The operations of BEST’s wet leased buses were severely hampered at Ghatkopar, Mulund, Shivaji Nagar, Worli and eight other depots since morning after more drivers joined the strike, they said.
The protesting drivers on Wednesday claimed they haven’t got adequate salary raise in the last three years and find it difficult to manage expenses. They claimed their salaries are quite low compared to the monthly earnings of employees of the BEST undertaking.
The BEST undertaking, which provides public bus services in Mumbai, has hired buses from a few contractors on a wet lease model under which private operators have the responsibility of the vehicle ownership, maintenance, fuel and driver costs.
It daily ferries more than 30 lakh commuters on its buses in Mumbai and neighbouring Thane, Navi Mumbai and Mira-Bhayander cities with its fleet of around 3,100 buses. Out of these, the public transport body owns 1,340 buses.