Buses back on the roads, dispute sent to arbitration as DPT supervisors reject deal
The bus strike was last night sent to arbitration after supervisors refused to agree to a solution hammered out between the Government and the Bermuda Industrial Union.
Drivers, represented by the Bermuda Industrial Union, were back at work today after they backed a “tentative agreement” with the Department of Public Transportation.
But a Government spokeswoman confirmed that bus service supervisors – represented by the Bermuda Public Services Union – opposed the deal.
Lawrence Scott, the transport minister, said: “In good faith the BIU came to the table with the DPT management and we arrived at a workable solution to the issue which would see service resume.
“I wish to thank the BIU who, recognising the need to get the service running again for the benefit of the travelling public, worked with the DPT team to arrive at an agreement.
“Unfortunately, the BPSU-represented supervisors who perform the critical dispatching function did not support the agreement and as such the service could not resume.”
But Mr Scott said that discussions would continue in a bid to end the dispute and restart the service this morning.
This morning the BPSU said: “The Bermuda Public Services Union met late yesterday afternoon with the Bermuda Industrial Union, subsequent to the supervisors being summons to a meeting with DPT upper management.
“It is apparent the matter of the bus rosters will require continued dialogue with the Minister. The BPSU is committed to working alongside our sister union for the betterment of the service. DPT Supervisors remain on post and will continue to ensure dispatch is readily available for operation.”
Jason Hayward, the Minister of Labour, confirmed that he had referred the matter to arbitration.
He said that the BIU and the DPT “worked hard to reach this point but with the matter still unresolved” he had been forced to refer the deadlock to an Employment and Labour Relations Tribunal.
Mr Hayward added: “As all parties are aware, the longstanding custom and practice is for work to begin again with such a referral.
“It would be ideal if the issues were resolved and the tribunal would not then be required to hear the matter. The labour department remains at the disposal of all parties to facilitate that resolution.”
A BIU spokeswoman said: “The BIU would like to make it clear to the public that the present bus service dispute is not the responsibility of the members of the bus division of the BIU.
“As was reported, the BIU and the Department of Public Transportation reached a tentative agreement last evening.
“That agreement was ratified by the members of the bus division this morning and they were ready to go to work.”
But it was uncertain if the referral would mean that buses will be back on the roads today.