Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators, drivers and conductors will not be getting any extra time to comply with a new uniform dress code that went into effect at the start of this month.
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), which asked for an extension on the operators’ behalf, told Barbados TODAY it was still awaiting a response from the the Ministry of Public Works and Transport on the matter, but Minister Michael Lashley said last night he had no intention of granting the union’s request.
From the beginning of this month, PSV operators were mandated to wear grey or yellow shirts as part of new regulations under the Road Traffic Act.
“I really don’t understand the interest of the NUPW [in this]. As far as I am concerned, we gave them enough time, and I am not kowtowing or budging to [any] union, organization or individual to extend any uniform deadline,” Lashley declared as he addressed those gathered for his St Philip North constituency branch meeting.
He maintained that the drivers and conductors should try to resolve any issues they had with their employers, and not with him or his ministry.
“I think the issue with the union is between employer and employee . . . having an issue, I think, about who is to pay for the uniform. That does not have anything to do with me, that has nothing to do with me at all,” Lashley insisted.
“As far as I am concerned, the law is there on the statute books and I can’t go and tell the Commissioner of Police to extend the non enforcement of the section. Not me, I am not in that!”
However, NUPW general secretary Rosyln Smith told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that her union still had not received any official response from Lashley.
“I don’t respond to things that I am not aware of. I wrote to the ministry. If he is not budging I think that the courtesy would dictate that the minister respond to me to say that,” she said.
“People say things and sometimes on reflection they might not want to say it, but my response would be that if that is so the ministry should respond to the union and say what he is saying and then we go from there.”
Smith insisted the NUPW’s request was not “whimsical” but a “genuine” one and disclosed that she would be meeting with the operators soon to discuss the matter.
“We are engaging in talks with the drivers and I have a meeting coming up shortly with the employers’ side. We need to look at certain pieces of legislation . . . seriously and that’s what we are doing. If the Government is in breach, then we will know exactly where we go from there . . . I think that the minister should be guided at some point in time,” the NUPW boss said.
The union is seeking to become the trade union representative for some 500 drivers and conductors.