Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 21st 2013 Contents A6
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Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh yesterday
assured members of the Association of Maxi Taxi
School Transport Concessionaires of Trinidad that
their issues would be addressed.
He made the promise as president of the associ-
ation, Rodney Ramlogan, led his members in a protest
outside the ministry s offices, St Clair, Port-of-Spain.
The association is seeking an increase in fees and
a resolution of their issues with the Public Transport
Service Corporation (PTSC).
On March 26, 2012, the association wrote to PTSC
requesting a meeting to discusss proposals for an
increase in rates. The last agreement, which was
signed in 2009, ended in September, 2011.
Ramlogan said in 2009 the drivers were given a
70 cent a seat increase but members were now asking
for an increase of $2 a seat because there have been
increases in the prices of spare parts, accessories,
insurance, labour costs and maxi-taxis.
He said the current rate a head was between $3.70
and $5.70 for long distances.
Ramlogan said 350 drivers transported approxi-
mately 30,000 school children from catchment areas
in Icacos, Toco/Matelot and Blanchisseuse.
Yesterday, approximately 50 drivers protested out-
side the ministry. Ramlogan claimed, however, that
several of the drivers were threatened and stayed
away from the protest, adding a group also protested
outside the PTSC, South Quay, Port-of-Spain.
During the protest Gopeesingh came out and spoke
with the drivers.
"On Thursday, we will be having PTSC represen-
tatives here so we will discuss the problems. We will
try and have the problem rectified within a month
or less before Budget Day," he told the drivers.
Gopeesingh said $50 million would be allocated
to the ministry in the upcoming budget.
Contacted yesterday, PTSC s deputy general man-
ager of marketing and communications, Carl Ramdeo,
said there had been a renewal of contracts with the
drivers but noted they had asked for an increase.
He said the PTSC would honour the increase in
rates when a new rate was agreed on.
School maxi drivers promised more $
President general of the Oilfields Workers
Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget said yes-
terday that none of the employees suspended
by National Petroleum (NP) were on strike
and the company was "provoking a fight" it
would not be able to sustain.
Roget s claim came even as NP announced
yesterday that it had filed a complaint against
the union in the Industrial Court and was
awaiting a date for the matter to be heard.
Surrounded by a group of union members
at NP s head office at Sea Lots, Port-of-Spain,
Roget told the media misleading information
was being peddled by management that work-
ers were on strike and it was affecting the
company s operations, which justified the sus-
He said nothing was further from the truth,
adding that the workers who were "unjustly
suspended" were not on strike but were stand-
ing up in defence of their jobs and a safe work-
"They had every right to stand up," he insist-
ed.More than 40 workers were suspended with
pay last Friday after three days of work stop-
pages. Union representatives claimed they
walked out of the head office because they
were outraged over an alleged attempt by
management to privatise the company. The
workers claimed they were being asked to
train contractors who would eventually become
More workers were suspended on Monday,
according to a release from NP, for engaging
in an illegal work stoppage at NP s gantries
from August 13-15.
Roget yesterday accused the company of
violating good industrial relations practices
by not meeting with the union before such
punitive action was taken. He said all employ-
ees covered by a collective agreement had a
right to refuse to train contractors who were
set to replace them.
He said management s suspension sentence
"made no sense," since the company claimed
workers actions adversely affected operations,
yet it suspended more than twice the number
of workers involved.
"The union will leave no stone unturned to
ensure justice prevails here," he said.
Teddy Stapleton, the union s labour relations
officer and second vice-president, also
addressed the group, giving an update on the
way forward. He said they had written to the
Occupational Safety Health Authority (OSHA)
about the company s unsafe practices, written
up an industrial relations offence complaint
over the company s failure to meet the union,
and sent a letter to the Ministry of Labour
about the suspensions.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Stapleton
said he had received feedback from the ministry
and a date was to be set up for a formal meet-
Roget said the company was using the sus-
pension as a diversion and accused the NP
board of being corrupt and having a political
"They want to change the discussion to one
of disciplinary action," he claimed.
The suspensions were meant to confuse
matters and move away from the core issues
of health and safety and corruption at NP,
Roget said to a cheering group of supporters.
He said there have been political appointees
in management who were "agents in the cabal
in the UNC-led People s Partnership govern-
Roget also called on Minister of Labour
Errol McLeod to ensure OSHA was doing its
job, reminding him that he once stood in the
union s present position, fighting against cor-
Calls to McLeod went unanswered yester-
Workers were not on strike
Roget: NP provoking a fight
Members of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union stage a demonstration outside the National
Petroleum's office at Sea Lots yesterday morning. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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