Private sector transportation owners and operators are increasing the pressure on Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley to settle a number of grievances over which they had threatened to strike in the past.
The Alliance for Owners of Public Transport Inc (AOPT) and the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) have written to Lashley demanding an update on a number of outstanding matters which were raised with a Government-appointed committee nearly three months ago.
The bus owners and operators called off a planned two-day strike in early April after Lashley summoned them to an emergency meeting in an attempt the avert the protest action.
They were upset at the time that the issues affecting them had not been addressed since last September when they had called off a planned strike then after Lashley had intervened and promised to deal with those issues
At a meeting on April 20 with the committee comprising officials of the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Licensing Authority, the Transport Authority and the Ministry of Transport and Works, the owners made a number of recommendations, which they said were to be forwarded to Lashley.
The PSV owner said at the time that they anticipated that their concerns would be resolved in a matter of days.
Nearly three months later they are yet to hear from the minister, therefore, they were plotting their next move, AOPT Chairman Roy Raphael told Barbados TODAY.
Raphael said a letter was sent to Lashley following a joint committee meeting among representatives of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), APTO and AOPT seeking the minister’s recommendations and requesting another meeting with him.
“But at this stage we hear nothing. Therefore we need to move on. So we will be contemplating on our next move very shortly,” he said, without providing details.
“We are still awaiting the Ministry of Transport to call us back to the table because we have the issue relating to Baxter’s Road that is still not resolved, where our PSVs should return to Baxter’s Road,” said Raphael.
At the heart of the matter is a Government decision to bar ZR and minibus entering Baxter’s Road from the Princess Alice bus terminal from picking up passengers.
Raphael said Lashley was not given a deadline by which to respond, however, it was evident that they owners and operators were running out of patience.
“We need to get back to the [negotiating] table as quickly as possible because while some matters have been resolved, we have a number of issues that we put on the table,” Raphael said.
“We have resolved one of the issues already and at least we should be afforded a hearing to get back to the table to see where do we go from there. Even if the decision is not what we want at least we would have met with the stakeholders. We are very concerned that nobody has gotten back to us,” he said
The two sides have resolved issues related increased security and lighting at the bus terminals. However, the owners said there remained concerns about duty free concessions for the industry, a bus stop at Tudor Street, and uniforms.
APTO Chairman Maurice Lee told Barbados TODAY it was difficult to say what the next step because their next move would be dictated by Lashley’s response.
“Our response is going to [be] based on their response to the letter we have sent them,” Lee said, adding that a deadline was not specified as to when they should hear from the minister on the matter.
Up to time of publication Lashley could not be reached for an update on the matter.