After two days of work stoppages last month over uniform issues, trouble could again be brewing in the privately-owned transportation sector, as some Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators say they were blindsided by a Transport Authority notice that the new dress code will take effect next month.
This evening, Public Relations Officer of the newly formed PSV Workers’ Association Fabian Wharton said his members were taken aback by the notice issued this week, as talks were still ongoing with the Transport Authority on the controversial issue.
“This matter has not been resolved. As a matter of fact, we had talks with the chairman of the Transport Authority [Ian Estwick] yesterday and today regarding the cost of the shirts. As far as I know, there are still more conversations to be had before anything can happen. We were taken aback by the notice as well, and our members are not very happy,” Wharton told Barbados TODAY.
The association spokesman said he was unsure how his membership will choose to respond, but noted that “urgent” efforts will be made to continue dialogue with the Transport Authority over the next few days.
“Our position at the moment is to talk. I don’t know if that will change but it all depends on the outcome of discussions that we will be having over the weekend and into early next week. We are very aware of what our membership wants and that has been repeated to us again very recently, after this correspondence from the Transport Authority,” he said.
The notice, which was also released by the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS), states: “The Transport Authority has advised all permit holders and operators (drivers and conductors) of privately-owned routed public service vehicles – minibuses and route taxis – that the new uniform and dress code will come into effect on Friday, March 1. Uniform shirts may be obtained from Sample Enterprises and M Grafix Incorporated. The Authority thanks the permit holders and operators for their cooperation and looks forward to their support as it continues to improve all areas of the public transportation sector.”
In discussions following last month’s bus strike, among the major issues of contention were the requirement that PSV workers wear a shirt bearing the Transport Authority’s logo, as well as the $75 price of the shirts.
This evening, Wharton revealed that while drivers and conductors have received notification that the price has been decreased by $13, there were more issues to be addressed.
“We received some correspondence that the price for a shirt was $62 and I indicated to the chairman of the [Transport Authority] that we needed to have further dialogue on that. So, this matter is not resolved, let me make that abundantly clear,” he stressed.
Wharton further contended that putting out the notice while negotiations were still taking place suggested that the concerns of drivers and conductors were not being taken seriously.
“The reality of the situation is that we have not had any discussion as it relates to action, but we are having conversations with the hopes of having this thing settled. Whatever we need to do we will have to do. We will see how discussions develop in the coming days because clearly somebody is not listening,” he said.