Public Service Vehicle (PSV) owners’ associations distanced themselves from Tuesday’s spontaneous strike by drivers and conductors at the Constitution River Terminal.
The strike occurred amid talks between the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT), the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) and the Transport Authority about a controversial five-minute rule, which sparked yesterday’s agitation.
APTO’s chairman, Kenneth Best, told Barbados TODAY: “For sure APTO did not support the action taken.
“We have already communicated that to some of them but some have already said their spirits are gone and they are finished working.”
Best said his association believes negotiations are the best form of solving problems and PSV workers should have been more patient.
The APTO chairman explained: “As Mr Estwick said, we met them with counterproposals because you were only hearing that the rule can’t work without any alternatives being proposed to the Transport Authority and I believe we have to wait and see what is the board’s position.
“We observed in the peak times, the five-minutes can work because you can look and see vans loading within two or three minutes.
“One recognises the only problem is with the off peak where operators are of the view that they should not leave the stand unless they have a full load because they said the waiting period within the line is sometimes an hour or an hour and a half.”
But he cautioned operators to be mindful that the new terminal was small, requiring vehicles to move continuously.
Echoing Best’s group, AOPT’s attorney Shadia Simpson said the alliance, was hoping to forge a compromise for all amid discussions with the Transport Authority.
As a result, she stressed the AOPT did not “in any way support the position of the operators”.
Simpson added: “We are asking that the status quo remain and we are asking them to continue carrying out their functions until we are able to reach a compromise in this matter.
“We understand there are some concerns in terms of the time period in which they are allowed to wait.
“We have heard them and asked them to just bear with us until we are able to determine the way forward.”
Simpson stressed that dialogue over a number of proposals currently on the table should chart the way forward and expressed hope the Transport Authority would move swiftly.
Officials also discussed the busmen’s complaints that Transport Authority officials have refused to address their concerns directly and disregarded their day-to-day concerns, forcing them to take matters into their own hands.
In response, Chairman Ian Estwick said the authority’s responsibility was to PSV owners, who held the permit.
He said: “I could see how they would come to that conclusion but our responsibility at the Transport Authority is twofold.
“We have a responsibility to commuters and we have a responsibility to the permit holders. We do not employ drivers or conductors, so we cannot negotiate anything with them directly.
“We cannot go to them to make any decisions to the detriment of the owners, who are our permit holders.”
While APTO’s spokesperson indicated the operators had their own association to represent their interests, AOPT’s Deputy Chairman Mark Griffith said their association would welcome an operator on its board.
Said Griffith: We believe if the workers’ concerns are properly aired and vented, then the dialogue will be more meaningful.
“The Transport Authority and the associations will have more information and be able to come to a better solution.
“We would be quite willing to have a workers’ representative meet with us and sit with us and be present at meetings if necessary to put the position of the workers and lead to the best possible solution.”