BIU: Ageing fleet caused bus cancellations
The island’s bus cancellations are the result of an ageing fleet rather than a standoff over schedules, Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert said yesterday.
Mr Furbert was speaking after Michael Fahy, a former One Bermuda Alliance transport minister, said that unionised staff had turned down new schedules because a more efficient roster entailed “a massive reduction in driver overtime”.
Bus cancellations have been a near-daily occurrence in recent months.
Mr Furbert said that “90 per cent of the problem” was the bus fleet.
He added: “I’m not saying that Mr Fahy is not partially right but his suggestions about creating new rosters eliminating all the problems are incorrect — it might eliminate 10 per cent.”
Mr Furbert said that he was “not bashing the OBA” and that the Progressive Labour Party also had to bear responsibility.
He added: “Here’s the real reason why we have so many cancelled buses. When you look at the 17-year period of 2001 to 2017, you see that from 2001 to 2009 the country purchased 91 buses.
“However, in the last eight years from 2010 through 2017, we purchased 14.”
Figures provided by the union showed 14 vehicles bought in 2014 under the OBA government, with none bought in the other years between 2010 to 2017.
New buses had been bought every year under the PLP during the nine previous years.
The first of four new buses on order arrived last month.
Mr Fahy wrote in The Royal Gazette yesterday that as of April last year the OBA government had reached an “impasse” on an agreement for a new schedule, with arbitration the only route left.
With bus cancellations affecting school routes, a government spokeswoman last March highlighted the work roster of drivers as “a contributor to the disruption”.
She added that 12 years of discussions had failed to produce an agreement with unionised workers.
Mr Fahy said BIU leaders had shown “willingness to enter arbitration”, but the government at the time had feared “yet another island-wide bus shutdown if the result did not go a certain way”.
He added: “With the America’s Cup looming and a bus service shutting down repeatedly on a whim, a decision was made to leave arbitration until after the America’s Cup.
“Eight months have since passed and buses continue to be cancelled at an alarming rate and the Government has been suspiciously quiet.”
Mr Furbert said: “That’s not accurate. For him to imply the only reason was because the workers were going to down tools is nonsense.”
He said the BIU was on the record saying that it backed seven-hour shifts that would keep bus operators on 35 hours a week.
Mr Furbert did not rule out arbitration as a means to reach a solution.
He added that there was no requirement to draw up a new proposed schedule.
Mr Furbert said: “They don’t need to. They can take the one that was rejected and let the minister refer it to arbitration.”
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