At least one group of Public Service Vehicle (PSV) owners is standing behind workers who complained last week of being blindsided by the Transport Authority’s notice that new uniform requirements will take effect next month, although talks on the controversial matter were still on going.
As a matter of fact, the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) is challenging the legality of the uniform introduction.
This revelation was made by a source within the organisation, who told Barbados TODAY this morning that while his organisation will adopt a wait-and-see approach to the outcome of negotiations between the PSV Workers’ Association and the Transport Authority, their attorney wrote a letter to the Authority last week, legally objecting to the new dress code.
“The owners have consulted with an attorney [Michael Lashley] who has written to the Transport Authority explaining the illegality of this uniform with the logo on it. Based on the attorney’s understanding of the law and the regulations, the Transport authority cannot enforce this uniform that is being touted out there. The law specifically speaks to a worker being appropriately attired and there has been an agreement five years ago in relation to what the PSV workers should be wearing,” the APTO source said.
The outspoken industry spokesman was referring to 43 (i) (f) of the Road Traffic Act that mandates all drivers be “suitably attired and wear boots, shoes or sandals and such other apparel as the Licensing Authority approves”.
The APTO representative told Barbados TODAY that he does not expect the matter to end up before the courts, as he believes that the leadership at the Transport Authority will come around to the legal viewpoint espoused by Lashley, who is also the former Minister of Transport and Works.
“If we must, we are prepared to go to court, but I don’t believe that it will come down to that because I am confident that the leadership of the Transport Authority will be reasonable enough to analyze the facts presented to them. They have the expertise of their own lawyers and I really don’t believe that this would be subjected to the drama of the law courts. They would be wise enough to see that the information sent to them is accurate,” the source stressed.
Last week, Public Relations Officer of the newly-formed PSV Workers’ Association, Fabian Wharton, told Barbados TODAY that the uniform issue, which had resulted in a two-day bus strike in January, was far from resolved. He 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.
In discussions following last month’s strike, the requirement that PSV workers wear a shirt bearing the Transport Authority’s logo as well as the $75 price of the shirts were the major issues of contention.
Last Friday, Wharton revealed that while drivers and conductors have received notification the shirt price has been decreased by $13, he had indicated to Transport Authority chairman Ian Estwick, that very week, that the price and other issues still had to be thrashed out.
Therefore, workers were shocked when the Transport Authority issued the following notice: “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.”