Deputy General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), Dwaine Paul, speaking with Transport Board staff who were off the job yesterday with disastrous results for the public.

Stranded school students and other members of the public (pictured here in Tudor Street) were left at odds to find ways to work or school.

Off the job

Staff of the State-owned Transport Board did not show up for work yesterday morning, instead staging industrial action in protest of a range of concerns. Among those concerns are the poor condition of the bus fleet, the filling of vacant positions within the organisation and management’s apparent failure to respond to issues that workers have put forward.

Speaking to The Barbados Advocate yesterday, Deputy General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), Dwaine Paul, said that workers decided to strike because of the “burdening stress” that they are finding themselves operating under at the Transport Board.

“We have a situation here where there are allegations of persons being appointed to and confirmed in positions for which no job vacancies have been posted. This matter came up before and apparently it is raising its head again. We have a situation where workers have been giving yeoman service to the Transport Board for the better part of ten years and have been unable to secure an appointment in those roles, however persons have walked into Transport Board and been confirmed in positions. We have persons who have been brought forward to act in positions ahead of others, and then we have the overall issue surrounding the poor state of the bus fleet,” he indicated.

Paul also spoke to the Transport Authority Service Integration (TASI) project where some Public Service Vehicles (PSV) have been issued permits to ply routes also serviced by the Transport Board. He contended that such permits have only been issued on routes where there is a large quantity of commuter traffic, presenting the potential to make revenue.

“The far travelling routes, Martin’s Bay etc., there are no ZRs on those routes, there are no minibuses on those routes. So the Transport Board has to be plying those routes where the revenue possibilities are less and then you don’t have the profitable routes to offset the cost of operating the non-lucrative routes,” he said.

The trade unionist contended that route rationalisation must now be the order of the day, maintaining that for far too long, it is an issue that has remained unaddressed.

“Why can’t we have a route rationalisation discussion where buses will run this route, vans will run that route and you service the destination with more than one route? To me that better serves the travelling public, because if I am in one of those non-serviced routes and a bus starts to come my area, I may be able then to look at using buses and vans as opposed to looking to hurt my head to buy a motor car,” he said.

Moreover, the BWU spokesperson raised concern about the “unusual situation” of buses being prioritised on routes which he maintained are unprofitable.

“We have a lot of St. Philip routes where buses are being sent as frequent as every half hour, but other routes have not had buses for two and three hours and when supervisors try to redirect the buses they’re being punished or the instructions are being changed. These are the complaints we are hearing from our workers… At the end of the day when you prioritise one route and you take whatever available buses you have and send them to a route as frequently as half an hour and then you have people who are in the bus stand from 12 o’clock and can’t get a bus till two o’clock, it is the drivers that will face the wrath of the public,” he said.

When contacted the Transport Board’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Lynda Holder, said up to that time there had been no meeting between management and the workers, and therefore they had no indication as to why they were off the job. (JRT)

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