Friday 28 February, 2020

PSV operators 'frustrated' over Transport Authority failed meeting

PSV operators speaking with Fabian WHarton (plaid shirt, right)

PSV operators speaking with Fabian WHarton (plaid shirt, right)

Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators are not seeking to be "reckless" and they take no joy in striking but the demand is for fair treatment, open dialogue and consultation without 'the run around'.

This is according to Fabian Wharton. 

The second strike action for 2019 by PSV operators occurred yesterday, Tuesday, January 8, 2019, after failed attempts to have a meeting with Transport Authority on Monday, as was previously scheduled.


Addressing the media last week Wednesday, January 2, 2019, when the first strike occurred, Fabian Wharton speaking on behalf of the drivers and conductors collectively at the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), said that after the meeting on the grounds in Dalkeith, it was understood that four representatives for the PSV operators, including himself, would meet with Transport Authority officials on Monday, January 7, 2019. That meeting did not come off.

This was the grounds for the repeat strike action taken yesterday.

Wharton said that the failure to deliver on the proposed meeting was seen as a sign of disrespect.

Yesterday, Wharton told the media:

"While we accept that the Transport Authority and the public have varying issues with the behaviour of some of our operators, we find it extremely hard to accept that having agreed to meet with the Transport Authority yesterday [Monday, January 7] and having attended the scheduled meeting where no one addressed us but rather we sat there for 40 minutes then to hear there is no meeting -was kind of disrespectful in our eyes, and in addition we have a scenario that played out yesterday [Monday] in the media where the Transport Authority frustrates the consultative process by and extension the workers, 'cause they got frustrated hearing the different communications coming from the Transport Authority - where at one moment we're hearing in the news that at the end of the day there will be no meeting, and then I get a call from my colleagues saying, 'Well there is a meeting!'

"So that created a bit of confusion and frustration for the workers 'cause the workers felt as if, alright, here's our representatives supposed to have a meeting, now we are hearing there is absolutely no meeting, then we're hearing there's a meeting but we cannot do anything for them, we can just listen, and then we're hearing there's a meeting in three different newscasts. So that is what created some of the anxiety and frustrations. So the guys were extremely frustrated."

Furthermore, he said that the failed meeting undermined the reason for resuming work and service last Wednesday at 3:15 pm.

"The premise for going back to work on Thursday morning [January 3, 2019] was, against the wishes of some of the operators, was that we would have a meeting with the Transport Authority on Monday.

"So here we are in a position where alright we have this meeting, we have our operators saying they want to 'stand down' as they would put it, and we're saying, 'No, no, no, no! We have this meeting. We need to follow correct protocol. If the meeting is supposed to be held on Monday, you need to work Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and on Monday.' There were moves by some of our operators to pull services on Monday and we were adamant in our view, no that is not the right approach. 

"So we did everything we were supposed to do as a responsible new organisation, trying to act responsibly in charting the way forward, but at the same time, when we have to report back to our members, 'Well we were there sitting and no one spoke to us, and there was no meeting'."

He asserted that that would frustrate anyone.

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Acknowledging that some perceive the operators to be a group of men who are "wild, or reckless or whatever, that they don't deserve the courtesies that an average Barbadian rightly deserves - the courtesies of 'We apologise, we cannot meet you because...?'" He asked, "Are you saying to me because they are ZR representatives that they are no less than a human being? Is that what we are saying in 2019 Barbados. I would hate to believe that. Not in the Barbados that I live in."

Recognising that some said the action was "emotive", he conceded 'yes' it was an "emotive" move to some degree because they expected common courtesies to be extended to them as well.

Furthermore, he stressed that the decision to pull service on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, was not taken lightly as school was reopening and Transport Board has its issues, but the group feels "forced into a position".

However, on Tuesday, while the PSV operators were on strike again, the Transport Authority issued a press statement indicating a meeting was organised for today, Wednesday, January 9, 2019.

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