union and jutc concur that public bus service should resume
Late Thursday night, an agreement was reached allowing bus drivers to resume their jobs between the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) and the University and Allied Workers Union (UAWU).
To force the government to meet their demands for changes to the new salary compensation package, the drivers had gone on strike.
The agreement reached at the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS) during an emergency meeting between the union and the management of the state-owned bus company, according to UAWU First Vice-President Clifton Grant, would have led to normalcy returning to the sector beginning with the 7 p.m. on Thursday shift.
Bus Drivers came but stood outside……
On Thursday, drivers at the JUTC depots in Kingston, Spanish Town, and Portmore reported for duty but remained outside the gates, pleading with the transportation ministry to change the compensation arrangement that they claimed they had not agreed to.
“We have been underpaid as drivers for years, so the new rate is even absurd. It must come to an end now. No bus will leave the depot until we have a conversation with the prime minister or the minister, according to a spokesman for the angry drivers.
Mikael Phillips, the transport spokesman for the opposition, urged the government to get involved in the dispute right away.
According to Phillips, the strike was not caused by a lack of salary adjustments under the government’s new compensation review program, but rather by JUTC management’s failure to adequately explain the program’s implementation and how it would affect the drivers’ take-home pay.
According to the group’s spokesman, they are required to operate broken-down buses, and when the police issue them tickets, they are forced to pay the fines out of their own pockets and accrue points on their licenses.
“They would have a very good transportation company if we are getting the proper pay and working conditions right,” the group spokesman said.
A request for a full refund of the sums paid to the UAWU-represented employees as salary advances in December 2022, to be paid before April 1, 2023, is a part of the settlement reached on Thursday.
Additionally, it has been agreed that negotiations between the parties will now take place at the local level the following week to finalize the terms of a repayment plan and resolve matters about specific deductions made for some previous allowances received.
On Tuesday, April 11, 2023, at 10 a.m., the parties must return to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. for information regarding the conflict.
The parties have been requested to refrain from any form of worker discrimination in the interim.
The strike also had a significant impact on the daily commuters in St. Catherine who use the JUTC’s public transportation system.
They were forced to pay an additional $100 for transportation to and from Kingston as a result of the action yesterday, as route taxi and Coaster bus operators increased fares by $50.
“I use a monthly budget that includes the cost of using the JUTC bus, which is less expensive than the Coaster buses, for transportation. I was surprised to learn this morning that the trip would cost $50 more one way than it does typically, for $150, one commuter said.
The commuter claimed to The Gleaner that she missed work because she couldn’t pay the additional expense.
I had to leave work today because, at this rate, it would cost me $100 more than I had planned, and I simply can’t find it. Another commuter, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed worry about her future employment. “Don’t even sure if I will have a job tomorrow,” she said.