Mumbai: The daily commute of over 25 lakh people in Mumbai would be hit as over 30,000 employees of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) began an indefinite strike early in the morning. The umbrella organisation, BEST Sanyukta Kamgar Kriti Samiti, which includes all of BEST unions, is adamant on continuing the strike as no consensus was arrived at in the discussion between the joint-action committee of BEST unions and the BEST management on Monday.

With 3,000 BEST buses off the road, commuting would be difficult, more so because of another strike, Bharat Bandh, called by trade unions. Mumbai Police also tweeted the information. It said, “As per the latest information from BMC control room, BEST buses will be on an indefinite strike from 5 am this morning.”

Meanwhile, the BEST management threatened to invoke Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against the striking employees. However, the employees were adamant to carry on with the strike until their demands were met. Commuters will be the worst hit due to the strike, said Ravi Raja, an Opposition leader in the BMC and a BEST committee member.

Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi BEST (AMAB), an independent citizens’ forum, has supported the strike as it considered certain demands of BEST genuine. AMAB favoured the employees’ demand for the merger of BMC and BEST budgets. The BEST management had earlier issued a warning to the employees that stringent action would be taken if they took part in the ‘illegal’ strike. Internal circulars were issued to the staff in this regard.

The strike was officially announced after 95 per cent of BEST employees favoured the strike in a poll conducted by the BSKKS across all the depots on December 20, 2018.