Saturday, February 17, 2018

PTSC drivers walk off the job

Commuters who travel by bus on the  Port of Spain to San Fernando route may have to look for alternative transport.

Bus drivers yesterday walked off the job at the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) south office as they joined their colleagues in protesting  health and safety issues at their workplace.

A release from PTSC told the public there may be disruptions in transport along the San Fernando and Port of Spain routes and the corporation was working to “normalise the services”.

Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke yesterday addressed employees from PTSC and the Ministry of Food Production, some of whom occupy the same building at King’s Wharf, San Fernando.

Duke said the structure had been in existence since 1911 when it was used as train station buildings.

Yesterday he said, “The workers have decided to enforce section 15 (of the Occupational Safety and Health Act) which is their right to refuse to work because they believe the physical conditions under which they are working are likely to endanger them.”

PSA officials said bus drivers were included in the over 100 workers from both organisations who left the job yesterday.

Duke told reporters the workers had been operating under “squalid conditions” and took the media on a tour of PTSC’s Administrative Building in San Fernando and the Ministry of Food Production Regional Administrative South Office.

He pointed out exposed wiring, falling ceilings, leaking roofs, unsteady floors, mouldy walls, poor lighting, uncleaned vents and mosquitoes.

He also showed a fire escape which he described as “a cage workers must fly down like firemen and women in event of accident or incident of some great proportion”.

Workers at the Ministry of Food Production said that over the years several workers have died from cancer.

Duke called for certificates from OSHA and fire certificates, documents showing Town and Country Planning Approval, the health surveillance book, the structural engineer report and for air quality tests to be conducted.

He said there were 460 more buildings occupied by public servants and the PSA will be looking at them.

He is expected to speak to PTSC and Food Production workers again on Tuesday.

In a release yesterday under titled “Temporary closure of the San Fernando PTSC office and depot”, PTSC advised members of the public that they “may experience delays in services from San Fernando as a result of a shutdown called by the Public Services Association (PSA) during a visit today (yesterday); delays may also be experienced from Port of Spain as well.

“The PSA president, Mr Watson Duke cited the uncomfortable working conditions which employees have been working under and made a request that all employees sign and relieve themselves of duty. 

“PTSC wishes to advise that all efforts are being made to ensure that the service disruptions are minimal and will be working expeditiously in the next few hours to normalise the services.”