Mumbai: The striking BEST workers' union and the Maharashtra government Monday failed to reach an agreement before the Bombay High Court to end the stir.
The high court Monday said it would pass appropriate orders on Tuesday on the 7-day-old BEST bus strike if the union and state authorities failed to end the deadlock.
A bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice NM Jamdar also said "things cannot continue as they are".
The high court bench Monday directed the high power committee, constituted by the Maharashtra government last week to negotiate with the striking union, to submit a report in a sealed cover clarifying its views on some of the urgent demands of the union.
The bench has been urging the union, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the state government and BEST undertaking to resolve issues in a "congenial environment" and ensure minimum inconvenience to the public.
Over 32,000 employees of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) are on strike since Tuesday last week and 3,700 buses in its fleet are off the roads.
The high court has been hearing, since last week, a PIL filed by lawyer Datta Mane urging the court to pass interim orders directing BEST workers to call off the strike immediately.
Following the high court's intervention, the state government constituted a committee headed by the chief secretary and held meetings with the union and all other stakeholders.
On Monday, the state and the BMC told the bench that while they had proposed several solutions to resolve the issues being faced by the BEST workers, the union was still adamant on not withdrawing the strike.
Appearing for the state, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni reiterated before the bench that the strike was "illegal" in view of the state's laws on essential services and a previous order of the Industrial Court in the city.
"The strike has no legal sanction. The union has made its point by calling the strike and all concerned authorities, including this court, have taken a serious note of their demands. Therefore, the strike must now be called off and the union must enter into negotiations with the committee with an open mind," Kumbhakoni said.
The union's counsel Neeta Karnik, however, told the bench that the workers were most concerned about the pay grade of around 15,000 junior-level employees who earn less than Rs 15,000 per month.
And they would think about going back to work only if they were convinced that the authorities were going to address the above issue on a priority basis, Karnik told court.
The advocate general and the BMC's counsel Anil Sakhre told the bench Monday that the authorities were ready to look into the grievance surrounding the pay scale of the junior level employees subject to the strike being called off.