Driver insists she did not cause accident
The sacked driver at the centre of the bus dispute has described the last eight weeks as “a living hell”.
Jennifer Harvey said she was “very relieved” that transport and union bosses were now going to arbitration.
The dispute is to be settled by independent arbitration with the Department of Public Transportation (DPT) and the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) having to accept the decision of independent judges.
Ms Harvey, who has been a bus driver for four years, said she was looking forward to “some closure” in the employment dispute.
She said things were particularly hard as she had been “taking the blame for someone else”. Ms Harvey insists she was not responsible for the bus accident, pointing the finger at the second female bus driver involved.
The dispute stems from an accident in Paget when one bus rolled a couple of feet into another bus as passengers were transferred between the two vehicles. The accident on Friday, June 24 resulted in a female passenger being taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital after her hand became trapped.
Ms Harvey had pulled her bus into a lay-by and summoned a backup bus as her vehicle was experiencing power problems. However, there is now confusion surrounding which of the two buses moved, with BIU bosses yesterday confirming they did not think it was Ms Harvey’s bus. Ms Harvey said she had repeatedly been trying to say she wasn’t responsible for the accident, but she said no one had been listening.
When asked how she was feeling, Ms Harvey said: “I can’t really explain it. I’m just very relieved that there’s going to be light at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s been a living hell especially because it was someone else’s fault. I’ve been taking the blame for someone else”.
Ms Harvey said she felt like she “needed a hug” then added that: “the strong always survive”.
Ms Harvey has spent most of this week at the BIU in meetings with union bosses. At most times she entered and left the building surrounded by her colleagues.
Yesterday Ms Harvey sat quietly at the back of the BIU press conference as president Chris Furbert told the media the details of the arbitration process.
Ms Harvey agreed to speak to
The Royal Gazette when asked, but after just a few minutes Senator LaVerne Furbert, who works at the BIU, told her not to say anything more.
Sen Furbert said Ms Harvey was “still very upset about things”.
The female passenger who was injured in the accident and her husband have reportedly told BIU bosses that it wasn’t Ms Harvey’s bus which rolled into the other vehicle.
Mr Furbert wanted the couple, who are Bermudian, to attend his meeting yesterday with Premier Paula Cox. But it is understood that Ms Cox said it would not be appropriate for them to be involved in talks.
The second bus driver was not asked to take a drugs test but voluntarily took one last week. The BIU has not informed its members of the outcome of the drugs test and the driver has not attended any union meetings this week.
Ms Harvey appears to be receiving widespread support from her colleagues, although the issue that she has repeatedly refused a drugs test still stands.
Bus drivers congregated outside the BIU headquarters alongside Ms Harvey yesterday morning saying they hoped “the truth would come out”.
One driver said: “The public is being mislead by the DPT, it’s not fair” while another commented: “The truth will eventually set us free”.
Drivers told the media that Ms Harvey’s firing was down to “a personal conflict with management”.
One driver said: “She’s lost her job but wasn’t responsible for the accident. They’ve been blaming the wrong driver all along” while another added: “They know this, but don’t want to hear it”.
At the press conference Mr Furbert also said: “We feel the experts need to re-enact what happened in that accident to see which bus moved.”