PTSC to resume holiday service, if bus drivers forgo overtime pay

Gen­er­al Man­ag­er of the Pub­lic Trans­port Ser­vice Cor­po­ra­tion (PTSC) Bashir Mo­hammed said if bus dri­vers are will­ing to work on pub­lic hol­i­days for the stan­dard rate rather than triple time pay, the com­pa­ny might re­sume the ser­vice.

The PTSC re­cent­ly an­nounced that it would sus­pend the ser­vice be­cause of the costs.

How­ev­er, Mo­hammed said he is will­ing to meet with two unions rep­re­sent­ing 619 bus dri­vers to come up with a plan to re­sume the bus ser­vice on hol­i­days.

He was re­spond­ing to rec­om­men­da­tions from the unions four days af­ter dri­vers staged a protest at PTSC head­quar­ters in Port-of-Spain.

 

Paul Smith, vice pres­i­dent of the Trans­port and In­dus­tri­al Work­ers Union (TI­WU) said the dri­vers were not con­sult­ed be­fore the de­ci­sion was tak­en and ac­cused PTSC of­fi­cials of not meet­ing and treat­ing them in good faith.

Yes­ter­day, Mo­hammed de­fend­ed PTSC’s de­ci­sion to dis­con­tin­ue its ser­vice on hol­i­days be­cause of the high cost it had been in­cur­ring.

“It re­al­ly was not trans­lat­ing to any­thing ben­e­fi­cial to the pop­u­la­tion of Trinidad and To­ba­go. All we are try­ing to do is en­sure we spend the Gov­ern­ment’s monies wise­ly and make the right busi­ness de­ci­sions,” he said in an in­ter­view at his Port-of-Spain of­fice.

Mo­hammed said the cost of op­er­at­ing the ser­vice and the num­ber of com­muters who use PTSC bus­es on pub­lic hol­i­days meant that it was not eco­nom­i­cal­ly vi­able.

He said for the Labour Day pub­lic hol­i­day PTSC trans­port­ed just 982 com­muters com­pared to its es­ti­mat­ed dai­ly rid­er­ship of 27,000.

He said many of these com­muters are pen­sion­ers who ac­cess free pub­lic trans­porta­tion us­ing their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards.

Mo­hammed said when PTSC runs an hour-long ser­vice on fre­quen­cy for se­lect­ed routes it costs $124,000 per day.

The com­pa­ny is heav­i­ly sub­sidised by the Gov­ern­ment and gen­er­ates lit­tle rev­enue from its ser­vices pro­vid­ed. He said to op­er­ate on a hol­i­day, an es­ti­mat­ed 44 dri­vers are paid triple time and ros­tered to work on a cost­ly shift sys­tem.

PTSC has 1,000 work­ers ex­clu­sive of 619 bus dri­vers, some of whom are rep­re­sent­ed by the Pub­lic Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion and TI­WU. Mo­hammed said the unions have not been par­tic­i­pat­ing in PTSC’s week­ly meet­ings.

“We have been writ­ing them and they have not been show­ing up at meet­ings. On­ly re­cent­ly they have now come out and said yes they are will­ing to meet,” he said.

One meet­ing was held last Thurs­day and an­oth­er is due to­day.

“So I an­tic­i­pate mov­ing for­ward they will come back to the ta­ble and have these open di­a­logue with man­age­ment so we can bet­ter man­age these par­tic­u­lar is­sues,” Mo­hammed said.

He said the unions have been push­ing for the dri­vers to work on hol­i­days.

Calls for com­ments from PSA pres­i­dent Wat­son Duke’s went unan­swered while a mes­sage left at Smith’s TI­WU of­fice was not re­turned.

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