Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) in Mumbai entered the fifth consecutive day on Saturday despite the Bombay High Court’s order to resolve the issue. The BEST Workers’ Union were advised to “take the first step” towards resolving their dispute with the state and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

In view of the issue, Maharashtra Chief Secretary DK Jain is slated to hold a meeting with the union leaders on Saturday in order to put an end to the longest bus strike in Mumbai. Leaders of the BEST Workers’ Union including BEST general manager Surendrakumar Bagde, Transport and Urban Development Department secretaries, BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta, and other union leaders are expected to meet officials from the state government at Mantralaya at 11 am.

After the Bombay High Court’s order, Jain had on Friday met the secretaries of the transport and urban development departments and the general manager of BEST to resolve the issue.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has clearly stated that it is not favouring the merger of the BMC and the loss-making transport undertaking’s budgets, as demanded by the union.

Over 32,000 BEST employees are on an indefinite strike since Tuesday to press for demands including higher salaries, revision of pay scale for junior employees and merger of the budget of the loss-making BEST with that of the BMC. On Thursday, the BEST management had invoked MESMA (Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act) against 58 more staff from the electricity wing; that’s 358 employees booked under this Act. It also issued 333 contempt notices for defying the industrial court order which restrained staff from going on strike.

The strike has caused inconvenience to over 50 lakh commuters in the city. In addition, over 3,700 BEST buses have gone off the road and the BEST has incurred a loss to the tune of over 12 crores so far.

(With Agency inputs)