Southern bus drivers who began a strike Monday over existing COVID-19 protocols say drivers from other areas have joined the sick out.
The Secretary of the Southern Minibus Association, Viani Jacob, also told St Lucia Times that the President of the association, Phillip Jn Baptiste, had been fired by members at an extraordinary meeting on Sunday.
Jn Baptiste had publicly spoken out against the strike, asserting that it was politically motivated.
Association Secretary Viani Jacob disclosed that drivers from Gros Islet, Grand Riviere, Monchy and others in the Castries basin have joined the strike.
He appealed to others who have not yet come on board to do so.
According to the bus association secretary, the fight is in the interest of all bus operators.
Jacob disclosed that Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Transport Minister, Guy Joseph, had telephoned the umbrella National Council on Public Transportation (NCOPT).
NCOPT President, Godfrey Ferdinand, was Monday morning attending a meeting with the Transport Minister.
However Jacob said the protesting bus drivers do not want the NCOPT alone to negotiate on their behalf.
“The council was not supporting our cause when we decided that we would go on the sickout, so we would like to have members from the other associations – Gros Islet is a very big association, it has no affiliation with the national council,” he observed
As far as Jacob was concerned, representatives of the Gros Islet, Vieux Fort and Dennery bus associations should be at talks with the authorities to articulate the plight of the disgruntled protesters.
“So far if we don’t hear anything from the authorities – if we have to go the whole week on sick out we will go the whole week,” he explained.
In announcing that Philip Jn Baptiste had been removed as President of the Southern Minibus Association, Jacob said when Jn Baptiste speaks it is in his personal capacity and not on behalf of the bus drivers.
Jacob also called on the public to be patient with the striking bus drivers.
“We are now looking for something in our best interest. As long as we get something that is in our best interests we will be able to even do a better job and be a little more efficient,” Jacob declared.
Headline photo caption: Stranded commuters awaiting transportation to their destination