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Buses back on the road, but dispute not settled

Back on the road: Buses resumed their daily service today after a three-day dispute (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bus services have resumed this morning following a dispute between drivers and Department of Public Transport management.

Drivers walked off the job on Monday afternoon after taking time off work to get tested for Covid-19.

The dispute escalated after bus operators said they would need to remain off work until they had received their test results a day or two later. Management insisted that drivers would not be entitled to be paid if they took a full day off.

This afternoon a Ministry of Transport spokeswoman confirmed that services were now back on the road – but that an agreement over the dispute had yet to be reached.

She added that buses are currently following the Sunday schedule, with additional runs in the morning and evening during the stay-at-home order. Regular service will resume once the order has been lifted.

The Central Bus Terminal ticket kiosk will be open from 9am to 5pm only, while ferry services have been suspended completely.

The spokeswoman said: ”This stoppage was caused by a need by operators to get tested for Covid-19 – and they were subsequently told that they would not get paid for taking time off work to get tested.

“The ministry paid for testing, but some employees did not return to work. The agreement was they would return once they had their tests. The issue now is the payment – lack of payment – for those who did not return to work.

“The Minister notes that this is now in front of labour relations and will confirm the outcome once it has been reached.”

Lawrence Scott, the minister of transport, urged the public to only travel by bus if necessary.

Mr Scott said: "We are pleased to announce that our buses are back on the road. However, I urge the community to do their part in decreasing the spread of Covid.

“We ask that individuals who have to use our public buses take every precaution when waiting for the bus, entering, and leaving the bus.

“We stress the importance of sanitising your hands, keeping your mask on for the duration of your journey, and adhering to the physical distancing symbols on the seats.

“We want to stress that persons should only be using the bus for transportation to and from approved businesses or work.

“Our bus operators will continue to function under the Ministry of Health's Covid protocols."

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Published April 15, 2021 at 2:32 pm (Updated April 15, 2021 at 7:24 pm)

Buses back on the road, but dispute not settled

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