Drivers and conductors of the city's public bus service, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) had been on a flash strike since Tuesday to protest the new computerized scheduling system.

As the drivers and conductors refused to comply with the High Court order, senior BEST officials warned of strict action against them if they failed to resume work.

"If the strike continues despite the court order, Maharashtra Essential Services and Maintenance Act (MESMA) would be invoked against the protesting employees," said a senior official on condition of anonymity.

Officials said the BEST management was ready for negotiations with the union leaders. "However, the union is pressurizing the employees to stop reporting to work unless their demand for manual scheduling of work is met with," the official said.

BEST General Manager Om Prakash Gupta said the scheduling system would optimise the use of workforce, ensure better frequency of buses and save Rs 32 crore for the undertaking annually.

According to BEST spokesperson Hanumant Gofne, though the industrial court had approved the new schedule, the union was misleading the employees on the duty hours. "The duty hours for BEST employees would not exceed eight hours a day," he said.

Around 40 percent of the staffers had accepted the new scheduling system and even filled up forms, sources said.


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