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OBA MP: Bus driver should take drug test

A suspended bus driver who was involved in an accident should take a drug test to end the threat of strike action for passengers.

This is the view of Shadow Transport Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin who says this “straight forward resolution” would end the seven-week employment dispute.

Ms Gordon-Pamplin is calling on the Bermuda Industrial Union to instruct the driver to go for a test to prevent any inconvenience to bus passengers.

But the BIU is standing firm with its promise to discuss further action with bus drivers and mechanics.

The threat of strike action has now moved a step closer as union bosses have called an urgent meeting at BIU headquarters for 10.30am on Monday.

Union representative Louis Somner would not go into detail, but the meeting has been called to discuss an “update on an outstanding matter” and the “course of action”.

The meeting, which will take about an hour, is expected to cause disruption to bus services on Monday.

The employment dispute stems from an accident in Paget when one bus rolled into another bus as passengers transferred between the two vehicles. The accident on Friday, June 24 resulted in a passenger being taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital with hand injuries.

It is a condition of DPT employment that a bus driver must have a drug test if s/he is involved in an accident that causes a person to require hospital treatment.

The bus driver was suspended for repeatedly refusing to take a drug test and the Department of Public Transportation say she will only get her job back if she is tested.

But BIU president Chris Furbert has accused the DPT of “dropping the ball” saying they did not follow the correct drug test procedure. Mr Furbert has questioned why only one of the two bus drivers involved in the accident was asked to be drug-tested and why a drug test was not requested until three days later.

This week Mr Furbert gave the DPT 24 hours to reinstate the driver, but the DPT said it was an “unreasonable demand” and they wouldn’t be acting on the union’s ultimatum.

But the DPT insist the woman failed to report the accident as she should have, phoned in sick for the weekend when she was asked for a drug test and has refused further drug testing since then.

Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “It appears that it is in the best interest of the bus driver to submit to substance abuse testing, as the outcome would result in reinstatement along with treatment and counselling if positive.

“If negative, there is no need to refuse testing, as the driver would be exonerated and will be reinstated without penalty.

“I think the Union might want to consider instructing the driver to submit to testing, if this is in accordance with department policy.

“This will bring to an end the uncertainty both for herself and the public who rely on buses for transportation, and will ensure that her salary is not further impacted. On the face of it, it seems a straight forward resolution”.

The views of Ms Gordon-Pamplin have been echoed by scores of comments made on our website.

The majority of readers urged the bus driver to “do the right thing” and “take the test”, adding: “She should be drug tested, she had an accident and someone was injured”.

Karen Bradshaw wrote: “If a person does not do drugs, they have nothing to worry about,” and Carla Wilkinson said: “She must have something to hide … if she didn’t, she would have agreed to be tested”.

AnnMarie Panchaud added: “If you have nothing to hide, you would not care about protocol”.

Sandra Vance said the PTB had every right to request a drug test, she said: “This driver interacts with the public on a daily basis and is responsible for people’s lives on a daily basis. Asking for a drug test does not seem out of order”.

While Davon A commented: “I hope everyone has a taxi fare … looks like we have an industrial strike about to happen”.

The bus dispute continues to roll on as the OBA demand driver takes drug test. .(Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published August 13, 2011 at 8:30 am (Updated August 13, 2011 at 8:29 am)

OBA MP: Bus driver should take drug test

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