Return to service
ALL PUBLIC SERVICE VEHICLES (PSVS) are expected back on the road today after a day of protest action which left hundreds of adults and schoolchildren stranded.
The newly-formed Public Service Vehicle Workers’ Association (PSVWA), which was behind the strike action for the second time in six days, will finally meet with the
Transport Authority at the Constitution River Terminal today at 10 a.m.
The announcement was made by public relations officer of the PSVWA, Fabian Wharton, after the group met at the National Union of
Public Workers (NUPW) headquarters, Dalkeith Road for more than seven hours.
“The reason we took so long to decide what we are going to do next is because there is general feeling among the membership of
‘here we go again.
They are not going to meet us’. That is the general belief.
“[But] we have been given the assurance that the meeting is definitely on, so we will attend that meeting and establish protocol going forward,” Wharton said.
Their apprehension came after a scheduled meeting on Monday with the Transport Authority was called off. It was among the agreed terms after operators staged a similar action last Wednesday.
The action, however, was not supported by the Association of Public Transport Operators or the Alliance Owners of Public Transport, and this led to the formation of PSVWA.
Some of their issues include the five-minute rule in the Constitution River Terminal, the fuel tax, lack of communication and respect, saturated routes and the cost of new uniform shirts.
During the press briefing last night at the NUPW, where he was supported by other members including Michael Farrell, Shawn Best, Ricardo Forde and Rodney Bellamy, the PRO explained that they now paid $25 for the Oxford shirts, and questioned why they had to pay over $60 for the same shirt, which would have a crest.
Wharton explained that their decision to pull drivers off the road and disrupt the first day of the school term was a tough decision to make, hence why it was only announced at
2 a.m. yesterday.
While he could not say how many vehicles and workers were involved in the action, he revealed that commuters along the West Coast, South Coast, Sargeant Street in St John and The Ivy in St Michael were most impacted. He added there were “moderate” effects on the Bush Hall and Jackson routes.
However, the MIDWEEK NATION team observed people in Sam Lord’s Castle in St Philip, Sugar Hill and Horse Hill in St Joseph, and Dash Valley in St George, who also had major difficulties.
It is understood that about seven minibuses and route taxis operated from Speightstown yesterday, more than 20 in the Constitution River Terminal about ten in the Cheapside terminal.
Wharton said he was not shocked by the response.
“We were not surprised. Since what some people call the wildcat strike
[last week], we recognise that there are a lot of frustrated PSV operators in the island and if they have to be called into action, they will be ready.”
He said he hoped not to have to ask drivers to pull off the road again because of the impact such action had on the economy.
“This is a tool I would hope I don’t have to use anytime in the near future . . . because at the end of the day, I am hoping that there is a new dispensation where we can have consultation which will reduce confrontation,” he added.
In a release, chairman of the Transport Authority Ian Estwick expressed surprise at the strike action.
“As the regulatory body, our remit is with the permit holders. We are sensitive to the representation made to us and, therefore, agreed to meet with the newly formed group. I know that at this time it’s a very emotionally charged climate with pressing issues.
“However, it is through listening that issues can be resolved and not through emotional responses. We are prepared to sit and have reasoned discussions with the new group,”
Minister in the Ministry of Transport, Peter Phillips, who met with the protesters last week, said he would not be at today’s meeting, but looked forward to hearing the outcome.
Meanwhile, manager of marketing and corporate communications at the Transport Board, Lynda Holder, was not able to say how their buses picked up the slack, but was thankful not all of the PSVS were off the road. She added they were managing with the resources they had.
Please see also Pages 4 and 5.
PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER of the Public Service Vehicle Workers’ Association, Fabian Wharton (right), speaking to the media last night. Looking on are colleaguesShawn Best (centre) and Michael Farrell.