Just four days into the New Year another strike is on the horizon.
And once again, a lack of communication is at the centre of the latest dispute between the Transport Authority and Public Service Vehicle workers.
With the row over myriad issues, some operators have signalled their intention to intensify their protest if their grievances are not addressed.
Now, while Wednesday’s strike by drivers and conductors affected commuters, it happened when most people were already at work and students were still on vacation.
With schools set to reopen on Tuesday, it would be a catastrophe if the workers withdrew their services.
We hope that a planned meeting with the Transport Authority leads to an amicable solution.
There is no reason why it should not.
The workers’ main bone of contention is that there was no communication from Government regarding the implementation of certain new policies.
They strongly believe the new requirements to buy uniforms from the Transport Authority at a high cost, and the penalties being handed down in the law courts for traffic violations, have placed them at a disadvantage.
We support the Transport Authority attempts to bring order to PSV disorder. It is about time.
Nonetheless, it cannot be fair that drivers and operators have to not only buy shirts for $60, when they can be obtained much cheaper elsewhere, but must also ensure they carry the Transport Authority’s logo.
“One of those same shirts cost $12 from S.Y. Adam’s, so for that same $60 that the Transport Authority wants me to pay I can buy five shirts,” one irate driver shouted during the protest on Spring Garden on Wednesday.
We find his concern to be reasonable.
It is also unclear why the Transport Authority is insisting that those workers wear shirts bearing its crest.
PSV workers are not employed by the Transport Authority and therefore reserve the right to deny such a request.
The workers’ rights cannot be infringed upon just so that they are in neat uniforms.
From all reports, the workers are not opposed to wearing uniforms but would prefer if they could advertise their own brands instead of the Transport Authority’s.
This issue should be quickly and easily addressed at the upcoming meeting.
We do not agree that the new penalties to keep PSV operators on the straight and narrow are excessively harsh.
For too long PSVs have been allowed to break the law with impunity.
There are drivers who have notched up hundreds of traffic convictions but are still allowed to hold a driver’s licence and an operators permit.
We support the new regulation that could deprive a driver or conductor of a licence or permit for between six months to a year after being reported for two consecutive offences.
In other countries, most of those drivers and conductors would have had their licences and permits taken away long ago.
For quite some time, PSV workers have been trying to change the public’s perception of them. Now is the perfect opportunity to show us just how serious they are about behaving like they are labelled: Public Service Vehicles.
There will always be a bad apple among the bunch, but there is no reason why PSV workers cannot drive in a safe and responsible manner on the island’s roads, stop only at bus stops to pick up and set down passengers – and wear their uniforms.
With meaningful discussion, the Transport Authority and the newly formed PSV workers association should be able to thrash out those issues with little fanfare.
It’s about time.