The Bombay high court will decide on May 6 the petition filed by BEST Workers Union challenging the implementation of the new duty scheduling system at Goregaon and Malwani depots although a Memorandum of Understanding with the undertaking says that it has to be implemented at Malad depot only.
The transport body's efforts to implements 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 Rs32 crore annually, the employees say the move will compel them to work for over 12 hours.
The workers had initially approached the industrial court, which ruled in favour of the undertaking though it allowed the aggrieved party to file a fresh application in case there were other difficulties. The workers' union then moved the HC and even resorted to a flash strike on April 1.
A division bench of HC had asked both the parties to reach an amicable settlement in view of the hardships caused to the general public. Following this, a memorandum of understanding was signed on April 2 with the agreement that duty scheduling system will be implemented as a pilot project at Malad depot.
It was also agreed that the union would not striking work till the pros and cons of the system are evaluated. If all goes well, the BEST wants to implement the time-management programme at other depots from June 1.
In its petition, the union has stated that the BEST management is also trying the implement the system at two other depots – Goregaon and Malwani. To this, BEST had clarified that they had to carry out minor adjustments in the duty schedule of staffers at these stations just to ensure proper implementation of the system at Malad.
During the hearing the union's petition, the HC had rapped the workers, saying they needlessly complicated the matter. "You should have waited for the order copy. The MoU now supersedes the industrial court order as it is signed later," remarked Justice Jamdar.
The high court's decision on May 6 is likely to give a clearer picture of the future of BEST's new duty scheduling system.