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Maxi Concessionaires back off from union march
Having been paid almost $19 million in outstanding salaries, the Association of Maxi Taxi School Transport Concessionaires says it will not join in the amalgamated trade union march to save Petrotrin, which begins today (Wednesday) and ends in Port-of-Spain on Friday.
Dubbed the “Mother of all Marches,” the three-day march is expected to include a newly united delegation of trade unionists, inclusive of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), National Trade Union Centre (NATUC), Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FITUN) and the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU).
During an interview on Tuesday, president of the Association Rodney Ramlogan said they did not want to disrupt the school term by participating in another three days of protest marches even though he supported the trade union movement.
Now that they were paid, Ramlogan said they wanted to make good on their commitment to take students safely to school. Ramlogan, who led his team on several months of protests, said even though the Ministry announced it had cleared outstanding salaries, a total of $1.7 million was withheld because of discrepancies in payment.
“The Minister said school maxi taxis drivers have to reimburse $1.7 million. We want to know why. All our claim forms have to be stamped by the principals of the various schools as proof that we provided the service. If the Ministry fails to pay, they are continuing to infringe on the rights of maxi taxi drivers,” Ramlogan said.
He also said that PTSC monitors the activities of the bus drivers.
“If we have monitors, why are they saying they cannot pay us?” Ramlogan said. He added that 90 per cent of the maxi taxi drivers were paid short.
Expressing hope that the discrepancies could be ironed out, Ramlogan said, “We want to thank the Minister of Works for his intervention in making sure we get our money. I also want to thank Mr Ian Hewitt, the president of the All Route Maxi Taxi Association for standing in solidity with us,” Ramlogan said.
He said the maxi drivers were eager to return to a state of normalcy.
“If the Government had not paid us, we would have joined the march to Port-of-Spain but we will not compromise the education system. We are eagerly awaiting discussions with the Public Service Transport Corporation on how we are going to move forward with this term. We have not received any claim form as yet and we are hoping there will be no further delays in payments,” Ramlogan added.
The three-day march advertised as Oil Joins with Sugar will begin at 9 am at the Pointe-a-Pierre Roundabout and will end at Rienzi Complex, Couva at 4 pm. On Thursday it will begin at Rienzi and end at Aranguez Savannah. On Friday, the march will begin at 9 am from the Aranguez Savannah and end at Brian Lara Promenade in Port-of-Spain where a rally will be held from 10 am.
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