Workers yesterday shut down the Public Service Transport Commission (PTSC) garage in San Fernando in protest against poor conditions. Despite the rain, workers held a placard demonstration in front of the nearby bus terminus at King’s Wharf, calling on management to address the situation by 4 pm or face more protest action today. Placards were posted on the windscreen of PTSC buses as some drivers and commuters expressed solidarity with the workers. Electrical technician Wendell Subia, representating the Transport and Industrial Workers Union, said over 50 workers from the engineering section were affected by the conditions.
Subia said the major problems were poor toilet facilities, an absence of showers and change rooms and lunch rooms. “This going on eight months now. We met with the chairman, the general manager, the properties manager and they assured us that everything will be remedied but up to now nothing has been done,” Subia said. He said four out of the five toilets were working, but they were in a deplorable condition. “They have no seats and your clothes dragging in urine on the toilet concrete floor. Is not even fit for a hog, far less for humans,” he said. Subia said their clothes and food were exposed to dust and exhaust fumes which pose a health hazard. Another issue, he said, was the state of wage negotiations which have been stalled since 2008. Commuter Mohammed Ghanny, 69, of La Romaine who has been using the bus service for over 50 years, appealed to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to intervene. He said instead of spending $12 million for Shaquille O’Neil to “lift she up to throw a ball in a basket,” he said the PM should have spent that money on the bus drivers and garage workers.
When contacted, Brian Juanette, PTSC’s Operations Manager, said he was aware of the protest but was sidetracked due to the floods which left thousands of commuters stranded at City Gate in Port-of-Spain. Admitting that those issues have been pending for some time, he said, “I could understand their desire to take this action. I do not approve of it but I understand it.” He said the manager at PTSC’s south office would be arranging to provide some relief to the workers until all the issues could be rectified. PTSC Chairman Vincent Lassse is out of the country and Transport Minister Chandresh Sharma could not be reached for comment yesterday.