One of the main bodies representing public service vehicle (PSV) workers in Barbados is calling for dialogue with the new government once it settles into office.
Communications, Information and Marketing Officer of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Mark Haynes told Barbados TODAY his organisation was ready to sit at the table with the new administration to discuss a myriad of issues affecting the sector.
“I shall be calling on government when it settles down . . . to try to work with the PSV fraternity which needs help. I have asked for things before and I hope that this government will be amenable to assisting the PSV sector as much as it could,” Haynes said.
“We are cognizant that the economy is very precarious and, therefore, government has a lot on its hands, but at the same time I think this sector which contributes largely to Barbados’ GDP should be given priority. So I hope whichever Minister of Transport comes to office that he or she, and the government by extension, will be amenable to some of our requests.
“I still maintain that there should be a national conversation, not shouting across at each other but speaking with each other, engaging each other in a very professional and cordial way. I think that this sector requires a conversation,” he added in an interview with Barbados TODAY.
Haynes also maintained that the sector should be given an opportunity for talks just as is done with the private sector.
“The workers in this sector have got to pay the requisite taxes and so on to ply the various routes and I do not see why this sector should be side-lined,” he said, adding that the workers have “gone through a lot” within the last two years.
“We are still at the 35 per cent capacity owing to the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to wreak havoc and I hope it soon dissipates but, of course, we made an effort to follow the requisite protocols. I cannot tell you that every single person is following the protocols, but for the most part, there has been heightened sensitivity in terms of the workers doing their part in order to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19.”
The AOPT official highlighted the need for concessions for the sector.
“We are under stress in terms of the finances which are down as a consequence of COVID-19; the fuel tax which has not been touched . . . which is really putting pressure on the sector. This is a vexing issue for the workers . . . . That is one of the things that we will put on the table. I believe that the excise tax can be looked at as a means of reducing some of the cost. I believe government can look at this going forward even if it is a short-term measure,” he said.
“We have miscellaneous costs. Insurance is astronomical and that’s not really a government issue, I dare say, but . . . to have a conversation so government can have an understanding as to where we are. If government can help us with an insurance company that can be primarily for the PSV sector, this could be welcomed,” added Haynes who wished the Mia Mottley-led administration well in its second term in office.
“We are looking forward to working closely with the Barbados Government.” (FW)