Cabbies in the west reject call to strike

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Taxi associations in St James and Trelawny say they will not support a strike, if called by their counterparts in other sections of the country, to force the Government to give cab drivers an amnesty on overdue traffic fines.

“We are not supporting any strike for tickets. There is an arrangement, honour it, and if it becomes difficult then you can revisit it. You ask for a payment plan and you get, go ahead,” Deon Chance, president of the St James Taxi Association, urged his colleagues on Monday during an interview with the Jamaica
Observer.

“We’re not going out there to do anything more with the tickets. The strike took place; the Government compromised and give them a payment plan, what more do they want?” he asked, obviously annoyed at the threat issued by Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS) President Egeton Newman at a meeting of the group on Sunday.

Newman had said he was going back on his word that there would be no more withdrawal of service by taxi and bus operators.

“Rescind the whole idea of a payment arrangement and give us our first request, which was an amnesty. [The] Government can wipe the slate clean and start anew. If that does not happen, we are going down to King Street, to the high court, with the issue,” he said.

Newman claims that TODSS represents thousands of bus and taxi operators. However, it appears that it does not speak for those in the western end of the country whose members similarly ignored, for the most part, the group’s’ call for them to strike last November.

Chance, who also serves as the media liaison officer for the National Council of Taxi Associations (NCOTA), said the organisation is steering clear of this latest attempt to force the hands of the Government.

“As far as NCOTA is concerned, we don’t have anything to do with that,” he said.

“We have members here in NCOTA who have tickets too but they understand that it’s their responsibility, and as an entity and as a group, we can’t go out there go do things illegal or against the rule of law. We want to say that we are operating in a way to respect law and order. No, you get yourself involved in something, you have to get yourself out,” he said of those who have racked up fines.

In Trelawny, head of Coastal Taxi Association Hopeton Gordon expressed a similar view.

“We don’t know anything about that; we weren’t briefed on that and we not in any strike action. Individuals need to make the necessary arrangements to get their things sorted out so they can all operate,” he said.

“Why you sit down with your ticket until it reach 100, or it reach 60 or 40? If you get your ticket and you don’t feel satisfied, you contest it,” he advised.

Gordon explained that, while he was not against strikes, these measures should be for serious matters such as the deplorable road conditions in some areas.

“We have a terrible road system right now, right through the island, that them fi strike for,” he said.

Cabbies in Westmoreland told the Observer that they have not heard of any plans to strike but opted not to comment further on the issue. However, they also did not support the call to strike in November.

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