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Passengers to feel effect of PTSC protest
Members of the travelling public will soon feel the effects of the shutdown of operations at the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) San Fernando garage by workers over the past five days over health and safety concerns.
Workers at the multi-service facility downed tools last Friday after their colleague Adeel Mohammed, 24, suffered a broken leg after he was struck by a bus which was being repaired on the compound. Mohammed is still warded at the San Fernando General Hospital.
On Tuesday, PTSC’s general manager Ronald Forde met with workers at the facility promising that their issues will be addressed. However, Transport and Industrial Workers’ Trade Union San Fernando-branch secretary Ryan Ramdath said the consensus among the workers is that they do not feel comfortable working in an unsafe environment.
He said for the past two years the union has been clambering for safety precautions and measures to be implemented at the garage at which roughly 100 workers are employed.
Recalling that recently a worker was gunned down in front of the garage at Kings Wharf, Ramdath said they have been asking for a proper lighting system, that the compound is pressure-washed because it is contaminated with oil and grease and a health and safety officer. He said they also need a proper fence as thieves would sneak into the compound and steal batteries and other things. He said if they had sufficient checks for the buses Friday’s incident may not have happened. Ramdath complained that there are over 200 buses on the road and all are defective because they belong to an ageing fleet.
“We are pleading with the government to also provide proper parts. One of the reasons the bus rolled forward (on Friday) is that the braking system was compromised. Drivers take these buses with these defects to work on the road and if the brakes fail on us, we have at least 35 lives in the smaller bus and more than 150 lives in the bigger bus, in our hands,” said Ramdath. He said the last time a fleet was purchased was in 2009.
Speaking with T&T Guardian following the meeting, Forde said, “Any accident is one too much, we try our best not to have these accidents in the workplace. We hear the concerns of the union and the employees. I spent a half day with them to ensure that we get it right, we put new systems in place and put checks and balances in place to ensure that these things don’t occur.”
Forde said currently there were some 50 buses in need of repairs and not working in San Fernando which will have an impact on the travelling public “in terms of shortages and scheduling.”
Forde said 35 new buses were expected in March 2018 and he was hopeful money will be allocated from the Budget towards purchasing additional buses.
“We expect to have two sets of new buses coming in 2018 as long as we get the funding they promised in the Budget,” said Forde. Assuring that the issues raised by the workers will be addressed as soon as possible, Forde said a joint committee of the union and management will also be set up to establish a standard operating procedure in San Fernando.
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