Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) vehicle drivers yesterday embarked on strike over alleged non-payment of their December salary and poor working condition. But the BRT sole operator, Primero Transport Services Ltd (PTSL), denied owing them salary, describing their action as politically motivated.
The drivers locked the gates of PTSL headquarters at Majidun, Ikorodu, Lagos and prevented other workers from entering. They alleged that they were being owed December salary and bonuses.
One of them, who preferred anonymity, alleged that they were owed November and December salaries and bonuses, but the company “hurriedly paid November salary on Christmas Eve.”
Many commuters were stranded at bus stops because of the strike. Those who could not afford the high fares charged by other bus operators, trekked. The yellow bus drivers increased fares by between 50 and 70 per cent. Ikorodu to Oshodi, which used to cost N200, shot up to N300. Fare for Ikorodu to CMS went up from N300 to N500.
The drivers said they would not call off the strike until their salaries were paid. “We too have families. It is sad that the management is not bothered if our families have a bleak New Year. Let them pay us and we will return to work,” one of them said.
He alleged that two years ago, “we protested poor salaries and wages.” PTSL’s Managing Director Fola Tinubu said no worker was being owed as at yesterday.
He said on the phone: “What they were initially owed was their November bonus, which was due on December 15 and their December salary. We paid both today, being the last day of the month. We learnt that they are now demanding the payment of December bonus, which is not due until January 15. We have explained to them that the bonus will be paid in January when it will be due.”
He said bonus was the company’s prerogative, adding that it was paid only to drivers who met certain standards every month in order to motivate them. Tinubu alleged the politicisation of the issue.
He urged the workers, especially drivers, not to allow themselves to be used by politicians. He enjoined them to remain law-abiding and work in the interest of all.