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Tuesday, June 28, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesVITRAN LAYOFFS LOOM AS CONCESSIONS GO IGNORED

VITRAN LAYOFFS LOOM AS CONCESSIONS GO IGNORED

Administration officials and labor leaders locked horns before the Senate Labor and Veterans Affairs Committee Monday night on St. Thomas at a hearing called to look for ways to avert the layoff of half the Vitran work force at the end of the day Wednesday.
After four and a half hours of discussion, no agreement was in sight. Barring any last- minute developments, more than 60 Vitran workers will lose their jobs, and bus service on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John will be curtailed.
In the last to weeks, Vitran workers on St. Thomas and St. John have offered to forgo sick-leave, holiday and overtime pay. Those on St. Croix have proposed doing the same plus going to a four-day week as well. Public Works Department and other Turnbull administration officials had not responded publicly to the concessions prior to the hearing, and they weren't buying it Monday night.
Government chief labor negotiator Karen Andrews told the committee she had received no written proposal of concessions from the union, only a verbal proposal last week. She said the government would review a written proposal and meet with union leaders at a later date.
Tensions ran high at the committee hearing, as labor leaders claimed government mismanagement had ruined the transportation service. But administration officials, citing Vitran's $12.7 million deficit, responded that there are insufficient funds for the government "to cover the cost of Vitran operations."
"The Vitran employees are victims of bad management, there is no doubt about it," Ralph Mandrew, president of the V.I. Workers Union, told the senators, administration representatives and an audience of Vitran employees. He had announced the worker concessions on St. Croix at a press conference two weeks earlier.
Committee chair Roosevelt David said the current crisis underscores the need to privatize Vitran, a move proposed to the Senate Finance Committee earlier in the day by the Turnbull administration's economic recovery task force. Vice chair Gregory Bennerson agreed. "The first resolution that has to be done is get this Vitran out of the government's hands," he said.

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Administration officials and labor leaders locked horns before the Senate Labor and Veterans Affairs Committee Monday night on St. Thomas at a hearing called to look for ways to avert the layoff of half the Vitran work force at the end of the day Wednesday.
After four and a half hours of discussion, no agreement was in sight. Barring any last- minute developments, more than 60 Vitran workers will lose their jobs, and bus service on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John will be curtailed.
In the last to weeks, Vitran workers on St. Thomas and St. John have offered to forgo sick-leave, holiday and overtime pay. Those on St. Croix have proposed doing the same plus going to a four-day week as well. Public Works Department and other Turnbull administration officials had not responded publicly to the concessions prior to the hearing, and they weren't buying it Monday night.
Government chief labor negotiator Karen Andrews told the committee she had received no written proposal of concessions from the union, only a verbal proposal last week. She said the government would review a written proposal and meet with union leaders at a later date.
Tensions ran high at the committee hearing, as labor leaders claimed government mismanagement had ruined the transportation service. But administration officials, citing Vitran's $12.7 million deficit, responded that there are insufficient funds for the government "to cover the cost of Vitran operations."
"The Vitran employees are victims of bad management, there is no doubt about it," Ralph Mandrew, president of the V.I. Workers Union, told the senators, administration representatives and an audience of Vitran employees. He had announced the worker concessions on St. Croix at a press conference two weeks earlier.
Committee chair Roosevelt David said the current crisis underscores the need to privatize Vitran, a move proposed to the Senate Finance Committee earlier in the day by the Turnbull administration's economic recovery task force. Vice chair Gregory Bennerson agreed. "The first resolution that has to be done is get this Vitran out of the government's hands," he said.