16-hour-long bus strike called off in Mumbai

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BEST called off their 16-hour-long bus strike here on Monday
BEST called off their 16-hour-long bus strike here on Monday

Mumbai : After holding millions of commuters to ransom on Raksha Bandhan Day, around 37,000 employees of the Bombay Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) called off their 16-hour-long bus strike here on Monday.

The withdrawal came after the intervention of Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, who met leaders of the nine BEST employees unions leaders, including Shashank S. Rao, at his residence.

Thackeray is understood to have given a commitment that the employee's demands will be met, including payment of salaries on time.

The strike was to press for various demands, including irregular payments of salaries by the BEST, run by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corp (BMC).

Mumbaikars, including three million commuters who use BEST buses daily as their lifeline, faced a harrowing time as the entire fleet of nearly 3,800 buses remained in bus depots across the city as employees belonging to nine unions didn't work.

However, the strike proved a boon for autorickshaws and taxis which were in huge demand to ferry people going from one place to another or railway stations.

Many unscrupulous ones made a killing, charging commuters exorbitantly even for short rides, while some commuters opted for 'share' cabs. Others relied on the app-based cab services.

Rao said the employees had demanded that their salaries should be paid on time and a written undertaking should be given but the BMC administration failed to provide it.

The strike also affected transport in neighboring districts like Thane and Raigad.

A commuter, M.N. Bose, complained he spent Rs 200 for a ride from Kalina to Santa Cruz which normally cost around Rs 50. Another, Senal B.U., paid Rs 250 to go from Kandivali to Dahisar to her brother's home for Raksha Bandhan, compared to the usual Rs 70.

The Maharashtra State Roads Development Corp deployed its own buses in some key sectors to tackle the commuter rush while the state government permitted private buses to carry regular commuters.

The situation was expected to normalize in the next few hours as the buses start rolling out on various routes.