Putting on the brakes

PSV owners to meet on Monday

Barbados is expected to experience a major disruption in public transportation on Monday, with private-run transport systems being pull off the road.

The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) which represents drivers and conductors of privately-owned public service vehicles (PSV) has summoned all the operators to a meeting at its Dalkeith Road, St Michael headquarters to further discuss a variety of long-standing grievances and to determine their next course of action.

NUPW Industrial Relations Officer Roger Gibson told Barbados TODAY this afternoon the concerns included the imposition of exorbitant magistrate court fines for wearing slippers in contravention of road traffic regulations, loss of business because PSVs could no longer use Baxters Road and Tudor Street for their inbound or outbound journeys to and from the Lower Green Bus Terminal and the continual issuance of permits on routes which are already saturated with ZRs and mini buses.

The union, which is spearheading the industrial action, is being backed by the two other major representative bodies, the Alliance of Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) and the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO).

“The workers are complaining about harassment by the law. For example a man who is diabetic and had a foot problem and couldn’t wear shoes and the police report he and the court fine he $800 for wearing slippers. It is exorbitant fines like that which is causing concern,” said Gibson.

He said the poor physical conditions inside the terminal constitute another problem. A flat pay has also been proposed that could eliminate the need for the operators to hassle, a practice that often results in breaches of the law.

“We have a number of concerns on the table that we want resolved. They have come to a breaking point and the men are saying ‘enough is enough’. The owners, operators and drivers have come together to make a decision. When you look at it their people [are] trying to drive us out of business. The insurance companies are charging us very high [premiums]. We want them to bring evidence to show that they paid out $30 million in claims and got $21 million outstanding,” stated chairman of the AOPT Roy Raphael.

Raphael said these companies should tell the public how much the PSV owners pay in insurance. “We having situations where one insurance [premium] alone could cost as much as $14,000 for a ZR van third party. And recently the insurance companies would have made a decision that they are no longer insuring any vehicle unless they are owner-driven. We are saying the majority of our members own more than one van, so how can that work?” asked Raphael.

He also drew attention to “high court fees” and the fact that drivers were now afraid to appear before a particular magistrate who they accused of not using his discretion when imposing fines.

“One man had to pay as much as $800 for a pair of slippers and then he made certain statements that . . . ‘if you plead not guilty and you come back before me, I gine double the fine’. So much so now that dey got men afraid to go to this particular magistrate, but are prepared to put down the van and decide to done wid dat,” added the spokesman for the PSV owners.

Raphael also told Barbados TODAY that the owners would soon ask for a rise in bus fares as well as duty-free concessions on buses, considering that several of the vehicles are aging and maintenance costs are high.

He also hoped that Minister of Transport Michael Lashley would resolve these matters when them meet some time this week. They also hope to have discussions with Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite to deal with the fines, and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to address the duty-free concessions and bus fares.

He said the operators and owners would still meet with the NUPW on Monday but the outcome of the talks with Lashley could avert an escalation in action.

When asked if his organization was backing industrial action, interim chairman of the APTO Morris Lee replied, ”we are all in this together.”

Lashley has said he was prepared to meet with the owners but he made it clear he would not seek to influence the court’s decisions.

5 Responses to Putting on the brakes

  1. Sue Donym September 15, 2015 at 1:24 am

    Ahhm, protest decided before meeting with minister? Sounds like putting the cart before the horse. In fact, sounding a lot like you guys still thinking with horse and cart mentality.

    In the case of the shoeless driver, why not approach the issue similarly to what is done in the case of seatbelts? Have a doctor examine the driver and certify that he is fit to drive, but that the shoes present some identifiable difficulty. Approach MTW etc. and ask if some provision can be made. Surely the Minister has the ability to make adjustments and stipulations from time to time to deal with such matters. Otherwise the alternative is obvious. He can’t just keep doing it and hoping that a magistrate will finally ignore it.

    You might have some issues that gov’t needs to tackle, but you have to admit that many of your problems are within and continue to bring you negative and unsympathetic attention.

    And is the union really “spearheading the action”? Are you sure this is a wise alliance?

  2. Liz DaSilva Vieira
    Liz DaSilva Vieira September 15, 2015 at 1:44 am

    If they were driving with a modicum of respect for other road users and the law they might not find themselves in the position that they are in with high fines and high insurance. These are both a direct result of their bad driving habits. Don’t want the high fines nor high insurance premiums? Then correct their driving habits, get their act together, behave like responsible adults, trustworthy of taking the general public safely from point a to point b, simple and basic common sense.

  3. jrsmith September 15, 2015 at 6:32 am

    @,Liz,D,V hail, hail, on the button, must further add, the drivers themselves and they owners just carrying too much attitude, brought this on themselves.
    Its stupid and dangerous to drive any vehicles with slippers, that person should be ban from driving, the issue overall bad management. on both sides,

    We need rules, regulations which must be followed, then the enforcement, if the owners and operators don’t like it ,they can always go and become ,painters or masons.
    Look at the amount of damage and deaths they cause , leaving bajan families with pain loosing they love one, all because of they lawless don’t care attitude.

    A lot of the blame is on the insurance companies as well, they should set high standards. stop this don’t care attitude.
    transparency about the owners of the vehicles, another issue, this the public should know.

  4. carson c cadogan September 15, 2015 at 7:27 am


    For a while the people of Barbados wont be subjected to, Psv’s picking up passengers at roundabouts, stopping every two minutes picking up and putting down passengers at stops other than bus stops, no loud dirty music blaring from Psv’s, no constant blaring of horns from Psv’s, no road racing among Psv’s, no driving into lanes which go Right only to cut over into the Left Lane when the lights change to Green, no stopping at the top of Gaps blocking them up, no stopping side by side on busy highways blocking them so that the Drivers can have a leisurely chat.

    There is a God. Thank you Father for this respite even though very brief. We Bajans need a little break from the Psv’s madness here in Barbados and you knew it.

  5. Alex September 15, 2015 at 8:08 am

    All over the world Government run transportation systems are not profit making . They are mainly for moving the population from point A to B and back , to and from work. The Private own PSV and Mini Busses are in this thing to make a “quick dollar” at any cost . that is why that system is design the way it is , “dog eat dog”. To cut out the MADNESS on the street , just pay the drivers and conductors a weekly salary and make the units run on time just like Government own busses .
    Until then , the saga continues.


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