In a setback to BEST Workers' Union, the high court, on Tuesday, refused to stay implementation of the new duty schedule at Malad depot and the resultant change in schedule at Goregaon and Malwani depots.
Justice Nitin Jamdar, who heard the petition by the union challenging the industrial court order, said: "No case has been prima facie made out for granting interim relief. Neither is the balance of convenience in favour of the petitioner (union). The prayer for interim relief is accordingly rejected."
BEST's efforts to implement the new schedule have met with strong opposition from the beginning. While management claims it will optimise use of manpower, improve efficiency and save Rs 32 crore annually, employees say it'll compel them to work for over 12 hours a day.
Neeta Karnik, counsel for the union argued that the duty schedule which was to be implemented from 1 April, should not be given effect to.
Chiding the union, the judge observed in the 24-page order: "It appears the only interest of the petitioner is to somehow see that the experiment does not proceed."
After going through the data submitted by BEST with regard to the number of buses, bus routes, conductors and drivers, HC noted: "It is not possible to simply brush aside facts and figures as incorrect and false as sought by the petitioner.
"Once the experiment is allowed to go through till 1 June, some discernible data will be available and then a decision can be taken," observed justice Jamdar.
He also observed that the MoU came to be signed as a result of the situation created by mass absenteeism by the union. "Therefore, considering the above position, it cannot be said that there is any prima facie case made out by the petitioner for stay of the implementation of the schedule at the above mentioned three depots," observed justice Jamdar.