By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Government’s top labour official has moved to head-off threatened industrial action by taxi drivers through a series of meeting designed to address their grievances.
John Pinder, the director of labour, said he plans to “mediate” through several arranged meetings with relevant stakeholders and the drivers themselves. He met with the latter on Wednesday, before seeing the Road Traffic Controller; Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) chief executive and Limousine Association president on Friday.
“I want to get to the bottom of their concerns and see how best we can bring some sort of resolution,” Mr Pinder said. “They have some issues at the airport as it relates to the limousine drivers and tour drivers taking taxi jobs, as well as having to pay a fee for pulling in and out of the airport.”
He added that taxi drivers also have concerns at Baha Mar and the absence of a call-up system. “They are also concerned that the holding area for taxi drivers is very far,” Mr Pinder said. “I’m waiting to have some dialogue on that. There are also concerns at Atlantis and their inability to access Cabbage Beach, as well as concerns over persons working for Atlantis using their vehicles to take taxi jobs.”
Mr Pinder said taxi drivers also have issues operating out of Prince George Wharf, and confirmed: “I have a number of meetings to get to between Friday and Monday.” He noted that while taxi drivers have formed a union, they are self-employed and do not need a strike certificate.
“Still, we want to try and keep industrial harmony and see how we can resolve their issues,” added Mr Pinder.
The Bahamas Taxicab Union’s (BTU) president, Wesley Ferguson, recently told Tribune Business that taxi drivers could soon opt to withdraw their services having seen no resolution to their outstanding issues.
Last year, drivers urged the Government to end the two-decade old moratorium on new plates during a town hall meeting with minister of transport, Renward Wells. Taxi drivers cited the lifting of the moratorium as a key issue, with numerous complaints being raised over the leasing of taxi plates.