10 August 2005

The Web

Bus owners warn of strike on Thursday

Public bus routes may be affected on Thursday if an ongoing dispute between the Public Transport Association and the Transport Authority regarding this year’s subsidies remains unsolved.
The association yesterday gave the authority 48 hours to resume negotiations. It said it may be forced to shed off up to 40 of its 100 employees if its call for an increased subsidy of Lm1.7 million remains unaccepted by the government.
But the government said in a statement yesterday night it would only accept to increase subsidy to Lm1.1 million, from the present Lm1 million.
Government said the transport association insisted on getting higher subsidies despite an increase in bus fares last January.
Association President Victor Spiteri said: “We’re running at a loss and that’s something we cannot sustain. The Lm1.7 million we’re asking for is backed by a technical report. We had already warned government last January that increasing fares while decreasing subsidies did not make sense at all. We can’t keep making losses.”
Spiteri said the association has had to employ people over the years given that the authority was transferring bus dispatchers to other duties.

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