JUTC Redundancy Exercise Begins Feb. 1


The positions of 340 drivers and conductors at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) will be made redundant starting on Friday, February 1.
Details of the exercise were announced on (Jan. 30) at a meeting held at the Ministry of Transport and Works’ Maxfield Avenue office, where JUTC chairman, Douglas Chambers, and President of the University and Allied Workers Union (UAWU), Lambert Brown, signed the formal agreement on the staff rationalization process.
The workers, who will be most affected are conductors, with 256 positions to be made redundant, while 84 driver positions have been identified for redundancy. The redundancy exercise for the conductors will commence on a phased basis at 100 per week, starting this Friday. Some 220 persons had applied for voluntary redundancy.
Transport and Works Minister, Michael Henry, in his remarks, said that he wanted to see more discipline within the transport sector and he looked forward to rebuilding the fleet of buses, which presently stands at 300 “to improve the service to the public.” While acknowledging the impact of the redundancy exercise on the families of the affected workers, Mr. Henry assured that once the fleet had increased, “we will look at those workers who need to come back on board.”The Minister said that he could not address the matter of a fare increase without an improvement in the service offered to the public, especially as it related to buses operating on schedule and more respect being shown to the public.
Mr. Brown, in providing details of the redundancy exercise, informed that the process will be completed no later than February 29, 2008. He said that the JUTC had given consideration to the accident record of those drivers being laid off and this will feature in the deliberations as to those who may re-apply. “There will be no re-consideration for drivers with poor accident records,” he pointed out.
Mr. Brown disclosed that the JUTC and the union have also agreed to review some cases of redundancy on the basis of exceptional humanitarian grounds, in order to minimize trauma to those workers, who, because of their economic situation, would experience extreme duress were they to lose their jobs at this time.
The union president had high commendation for the consultative approach during the rationalization process and thanked Minister Henry for “his principled and professional approach” and attendance at meetings. He also praised the good industrial practices of both the JUTC management and the Ministry that were evident in the process.
Mr. Brown articulated that the union was mindful of the rationale for the redundancy exercise in light of the loss of revenue and the inability of the company to meet its operational expenses.
He urged the workers to see the possibilities that now exist for them to improve their lives, instead of seeing their redundancy as a failure. “Redundancy is not the end of the world,” he told the JUTC staff in attendance, reminding them of the emphasis the union has placed on staff having a ‘My Alternative Plan’ (MAP).
Mr. Chambers, in the meantime, said that he was satisfied with the agreement reached by both parties. He said that the redundancy exercise completes the first stage of his vision of restoring the company to profitability and efficiency.
“In stage 2, we will implement efficiency in the system. At stage three, we are going to be changing the culture of workers and management at the JUTC,” he informed, noting that the company will then aim for greater efficiency with regards to the ratio of buses in the system to achieve a shorter turnaround time. “Over the next six months, we will see an improvement,” he promised.
Last year, the JUTC recorded a loss of around $1.2 billion and Mr. Chambers has vowed to return the company to profitability.

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