This morning’s crippling strike by Transport Board drivers took officials completely off guard.
General Manager Sandra Forde, who arrived at the Board’s Weymouth headquarters just after 9:15 this morning, revealed, in a brief statement to reporters, that official correspondence had been dispatched to the President of the Transport Board Division, Neville Kirton, inviting him to a meeting to discuss outstanding grievances.
Those talks were scheduled for 11 a.m. today, she said. Therefore, the General Manager expressed surprise over today’s strike action by the Board’s employees.
However, Kirton has expressed disgust over the Board’s hiring practices. In an interview with Barbados TODAY earlier this morning, he complained that new workers were being brought in, even though discussions were continuing at the level of the Labour Department on recent redundancies made by the Board.
He also reported that there were other outstanding grievances, while warning that the workers were prepared to remain off the job until their concerns were met.
However, at least one Transport Board bus is in operation this morning.
Kirton said permission had been given for one driver to operate one of the omni-vehicles, in response to this morning’s mass casualty situation at Maxwell, Christ Church. Earlier in the day, dialysis patients were also transported to the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment.
A short while ago, BWU General Secretary Toni Moore also addressed the workers, who have been gathered since 5 a.m. at Weymouth. Moore said the BWU was standing firmly behind its members and she encouraged the drivers to remain off the job, pending the outcome of a meeting with the Board’s management to discuss their grouses.
Today’s crippling action has left hundreds of commuters, including school children stranded.
So far, the Ministry of Education has advised that Government schools will remain open and that students taking CAPE and CXC exams can report to the nearest exam centre to them.