News

Tanker drivers' strike leaves gas stations running on empty

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 30, 2014    

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GAS stations across the island were either out or running low on fuel last night as tanker drivers, numbering approximately 200, carried out a strike in protest against the delay in the finalisation of a wage and fringe benefits agreement.

Up to late last night representatives of the National Workers' Union (NWU) — which represents the tanker drivers — and the Petroleum Haulage Contractors Association were locked in a meeting to resolve the issue, even as panicked motorists rushed gas stations to be told, in many instances, that there was no fuel.

Yesterday, Jamaica Gasoline Retailers Association (JGRA) President Derrick Thompson said he was concerned that the strike, the second in recent weeks, could get worse if the impasse is not resolved. He said that by yesterday evening more than 50 per cent of the island's 300 gas stations had essentially ran out on fuel.

"Most gas stations, if they have not run out as yet, would be running extremely low," said Thompson who, said the situation was a "major concern".

Early yesterday, as news of the development circulated, there was a mad rush at the pumps with some motorists waiting for four hours to fill their tanks.

One worker at a Texaco service station said the fuel ran out by 10:00 am.

Motorists, meanwhile, had the difficult task of moving between service stations in search of fuel.

"This has really left me in panic mode as I had to travel to at least three gas stations before I could get some gasoline to fill my tanks," share one motorist who was seen Beechwood Avenue in St Andrew.

The tanker drivers are demanding that their employers honour a memorandum of understanding signed last year. The NWU said that the marketing companies failed to meet a January 1 deadline that was agreed for the implementation of new haulage rates.

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