School bus drivers get new interim manager

National School Bus System drivers resumed duties after staging industrial action at the Motor Pool yesterday (Photo by Makeida Antonio)
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By Makeida Antonio

[email protected]

An interim manager has been appointed to head the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board (ABTB) Motor Pool following industrial action staged by drivers of the National School Bus System yesterday.

Human Resources Manager Taisha Yorke has taken over management of the Motor Pool until the ABTB appoints someone else to the position.

Yorke, who spoke to Observer in the wake of resounding applause from the bus drivers, said that she is up for the challenge and hopes that she can contribute meaningful change to her department.

Seemingly satisfied with Yorke’s address during the early morning sit-in, the drivers agreed to return to work so that schoolchildren could be transported home safely.

Earlier yesterday, the workers left hundreds of schoolchildren stranded after they refused to work until their demands for the removal of a manager were addressed by the Transport Board. That manager, who had recently been reinstated as head of the Motor Pool, had replaced the previous interim manager, Arif Jonas.

President of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union, Kem Riley, who is also the school bus drivers’ union representative, explained that workers had complained about the manager’s leadership style and the manner in which he interacted with them before he went on leave. Additionally, the manager was accused of serious allegations in the workplace that are reportedly still under investigation.

Riley believes that the unaddressed issues with the manager prior to his re-instatement prompted about 95 percent of the disgruntled workers to take action by calling for his removal yesterday pending investigations.

“As soon as they were told that he was going to be back as manager, they already called the union voicing their concerns. As a responsible union, we advised them ‘well, he’s just coming back, maybe there is a change of attitude so you have to be with him until anything arises’,” Riley said.

The union representative disclosed that during communication between him and Yorke, he was informed that the ABTB did not get to meet on the matter last Friday. Riley said that workers were looking forward to the outcome of that meeting and do not want the manager in the workplace until the matter is resolved.

“It seems like the same behaviour is coming back and the employees would have put a petition to the management asking for his removal. I understand that it would have been elevated to the Board who seem to be meeting on the matter,” he explained.

“The union is of the view that as long as there is a matter pending, they should have already removed the manager from the work area until the investigation is concluded and if the reports are not true, they put him back, or if [they are] true, they do whatever it is that they have to do with him.

“They were supposed to communicate with them [on Monday], to tell them give them a little more time but I don’t know if that happened. As you can see, the employees are out taking a stand so I will be going up there to get some kind of resolution on the matter.

“The first resolution we would want is that the manager be removed from the area until investigations are completed,” Riley said.

Meanwhile, General Manager of ABTB Hubert Jarvis confirmed that no official communication had been brought to his attention regarding the status of the investigations even though he had been made aware of the allegations.

Jarvis expressed that he was very concerned about the action taken by the school bus drivers yesterday and said he will be working towards finding an amicable solution so that the staff are able to operate in a safe working environment.

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