Thu | Nov 15, 2018

Cops to the rescue – Quick action from lawmen saved stranded commuters, students following strike action from MBMC

Published:Tuesday | September 4, 2018 | 12:12 AMHopeton Bucknor
Protesting Montego Bay Metro Company (MBMC workers and union representatives. Scores of persons, including students, were left stranded by the strike action by unionised workers at MBMC on Monday.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Donovan Graham (left) conversing with a bus operator in Montego Bay, St James. Scores of persons, including students, were left stranded by the strike action by unionised workers at the Montego Bay Metro Company (MBMC) on Monday.
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WESTERN BUREAU:

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Donovan Graham, the commanding officer for Area One, was called upon to quickly mobilise the police in western Jamaica yesterday to avert chaos, as scores of persons, including students, were left stranded by the strike action by unionised workers at the Montego Bay Metro Company (MBMC).

According to Graham, on hearing of the strike, he visited the Montego Bay bus park, where he met with the drivers of other public passenger vehicles, who he was able to convince to assist in transporting the students, who were seemingly caught off guard by the situation.

"As you can see, today is the re-opening of school for the September term," said Graham. "We are having a problem with the transportation of our children because members of the MBMC are on strike, and right now they are protesting at their depot location."

Graham, who was out with his team from as early as 5:30 a.m, also used the opportunity to instruct the drivers to help to promote discipline and good order in the bus park, especially in regards to the students.

"Most of the drivers explained that some of the students are very reluctant to travel with them, not for security reasons, but because they have their specific buses in which they want to travel," said the ACP. "I spoke to some of the students, and I even went as far as to instruct them to take the vehicles and to hurry on to school."

NO BUSES WILL GO OUT

Yesterday, staffers at MBMC kept their promise to resort to strike action to press home their demand for better overall working conditions, which they have been pushing for without success.

"No buses will go out tomorrow [Monday]. Unless we get something that is tangible, the buses will not be leaving the depot," Kurt Fletcher, Island Supervisor at the National Worker's Union (NWU), told The Gleaner on Sunday.

According to the aggrieved workers, they are unhappy with issues such as not being paid on par with their JUTC counterparts in Kingston; being asked to operate defective buses; among other issues.

"You can't have a situation where a washer in Kingston [at the JUTC] is earning more per hour than a driver in Montego Bay [Metro Bus company], these are the inequity that we want to correct in the system," said Fletcher.