Since our reports earlier this week, Bermuda Real has learned that there were more than 40 bus operators off the job as a result of COVID-19 or quarantine on the day the island’s bus service was suspended until further notice.
Despite the fact that the decision was made to pull the service as of 9am Friday morning, it took the Department of Public Transportation (DPT) all day yesterday and nearly half the night to release a statement.
It was finally released shortly after 10pm:
This evening (Sept 17), the Department of Public Transport (DPT) confirmed that the bus service has been interrupted due to industrial action taken by the Bus Operators.
The operators raised concerns regarding health and safety standards in the workplace.
The DPT stressed this evening that it considers the health, safety and wellbeing of all bus operators, staff and commuters the highest priority.
Furthermore, the DPT notes that its sanitisation practices strictly adhere to the safety measures required by the Ministry of Health, which include daily deep cleaning of all busses.
The DPT remains fully committed to ensuring the safest possible environment for all DPT staff and the travelling public as we navigate the pandemic.
The DPT will keep the public updated with any further changes to the bus schedule.
Lastly each of us has a role to play in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Please follow Public Health guidelines, wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, maintain physical distance and download the WeHealth Bermuda App.
As first reported by Bermuda Real on Friday, unionised bus operators emerged from an emergency meeting with DPT managemenT, clearly with no resolution to their COVID safety concerns, with more than 30 operators off the job.
In light of the emergency meeting bus operators decided to keep the wheels rolling while waiting to hear of the outcome of that meeting, to no avail.
Bermuda Real obtained a copy of the Executive Team’s statement to their members after the meeting, which said : “The BIU Bus Division have at the present time have come to a decision to withdraw labour as of 12 noon today (Friday).”
Due to the sudden surge of positive cases, the union set down a list of requirements moving forward, including:
- Deep Cleaning & Sanitation: All common areas of the entire DPT complex including all buses
- Testing for ALL Employees: Communication to Public Enforcement of passengers hand sanitizing and proper wearing of mask
- No Clothing, Bandanas or Hankerchiefs – ONLY official mask to be worn
It was also noted that “the above was communicated to the management team”.
Bus operators were also encouraged to “utilize this time to go and secure COVID testing” at the following locations:
- Clock Tower Mall
- Penno’s Wharf
- Bulls Head Car Park
- Edgewood Pediatric (drive through)
- Northshore Medical
Moving forward, the union said: “The Executive & Health and Safety Teams will update all as information unfolds.”
Saying “enough is enough”, the union’s Bus Division insisted that running the service with more than 40 staff out was virtually impossible.
Bus operators were notified by the union’s Executive Team on Thursday night via an email sent to government authorities responsible for the Department of Public Transportation (DPT) and the Ministry of Transportation.
The list included Dr Binns, Head of the Public Service, the Permanent Secretary and the Directors responsible for the Ministry of Transportation.
The letter, obtained by Bermuda Real, which was addressed to Mr Packwood, stated: “It is sad that it has come to this but we have been forced to put the interest of the membership first while we continue to wait in limbo for actions to be taken.
“We have had the full day today and nothing has happened besides memos to be put up.
“Enough is enough and our Safety & Health must come first.
“We have over 30 persons out at DPT whether by testing positive or a close contact. OVER 30, again enough is enough. This matter shall go to the Premier if it needs to but how are we still trying to still have a full operation when we have over 30 persons out?
“The service should have been shut down to sanitize and to deep clean all areas before it spreads any further. What, we going wait until the entire membership is sent home?
“As of 9am tomorrow (Friday) morning, we will be withdrawing our Labour and the service will be shut down until management/government has done something about this!
“Please sign on as per normal and do your work until the next update is given.
“Your Executive Team thanks you for all the support and your patience.
“Stand by for any future updates in the morning.”
Bermuda Real reported earlier this week that six bus operators tested positive for COVID-19 and as you know now, more drivers have tested positive since then.
- Top Feature Photos by Bermuda Real