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Bus drivers strike in row over recorded conversations

Transport woes: Buses go on strike again (File photograph)

Bus drivers went on strike yesterday after industrial action by Bermuda Industrial Union members, the Ministry of Transport said.

Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, speaking on ZBM last night, said the dispute centred around a supervisor who was claimed to have recorded staff conversations.

A spokeswoman said: “The Ministry of Transport is advising passengers of an interruption in bus service today due to industrial action by the Bermuda Industrial Union.

“The Department of Public Transportation is recommending passengers use alternative transportation.”

The spokeswoman said the department “appreciates and shares the public’s frustration at the interruption of services” and that an update would be issued today.

The spokeswoman later confirmed there would be no bus services running today.

She added: “The Department of Public Transportation is recommending that bus passengers plan to use alternative transportation.”

Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, speaking on ZBM last night, said the dispute centred around a supervisor who was claimed to have recorded staff conversations.

Mr Furbert said: “He was recording people’s conversations and people didn’t know they were being recorded.

“So when he was playing the recording back to, I guess, one of the management team and one of the workers heard it, he tried to shut it off but it was too late.”

Mr Furbert added that angry staff wanted the supervisor sent home, but management failed to do so.

But he said: “The minister and PS got involved, so they sent him home while the investigation was taking place.

“Before the investigation was completed, he’s back on the job Monday morning and the workers felt he should have been sent back home.”

Mr Furbert insisted that he had told workers that they should give the public 24 hours notice of a withdrawal of labour.

He said that bus service staff had “put a vote of no confidence in” on Roger Todd, the director Department of Public Transportation, earlier this year.

Susan Jackson, the shadow transport minister, said tonight: “It's irresponsible – students have been stranded yet again while bus drivers down tools and walk off the job.

“Here we are at the busiest time of year and bus passengers have the added burden of not knowing whether bus transportation is available.”

Ms Jackson added: “Public transportation is a vital public service.

“Some of our most vulnerable are being held at ransom and Government appears to be on the back foot.”

Ms Jackson said: “Government’s responsibility is to ensure safe and reliable public transportation.

“This happens often and one must question whether or not this Government has the ability to resolve these matters once and for all.”

Bus drivers downed tools in September for 12 days in a stand-off with the Government.

The Government referred the dispute to arbitration in the hope that, with further work stoppages ruled illegal, bus drivers would be forced back to work.

Mr Furbert maintained the union’s position that the industrial action was not “a strike”.

He insisted that bus drivers had no alternative but to take their vehicles off the roads over fears about potential Covid-19 exposure in the workplace.

Drivers walked off the job on September 17 because of fears about infection.

The dispute was resolved five days later – but drivers continued industrial action after the Government said that they would not get paid for time off work.


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Published December 17, 2021 at 9:06 am (Updated December 17, 2021 at 9:06 am)

Bus drivers strike in row over recorded conversations

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