‘We won’t accept this’
Protesting Transport Authority staff say MD being forced to resign
Placard-bearing Transport Authority workers protest in front of the entity’s western office in Montego Bay on Tuesday as they say that the acting managing director, Willard Hylton, is being forced to resign. (Photo: Rochelle Clayton)

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Shocked by what they say is an unexpected resignation by Acting Managing Director Willard Hylton, workers at the Transport Authority’s western regional office in Montego Bay, St James, called for transparency in the entity’s operations as they believe the man they have grown to love is being forced out of his job.

“We were informed this morning (Tuesday) that our managing director will be resigning at the end of this month, which is very odd. We don’t think this is a voluntary action; that is my opinion and I am sure the general population would agree with me,” administrative officer Rachel Wood told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday during a peaceful protest at the Montego Bay office.

“Mr Hylton is not that kind of person who is just going to get up out of the blue and resign. He cares too much about the people to do that to us,” Wood added.

Vowing to remain off the job for the rest of the day in solidarity with Hylton, placard-bearing route inspectors and administration staff stood outside the office voicing their concerns.

Beverly Wedderburn, a secretary at the office, stated that the staff is very disgruntled by the resignation, arguing that “Mr Hylton is the perfect person for the position”.

“He is a people person and he talks with us as staff one-on-one. Every time he comes to Montego Bay he calls each inspector and admin staff by names. Unlike every other MD (managing director), he gave us his personal number and said we can call him if there is an issue. He is there for every staff member,” Wedderburn told the Observer.

“He makes you feel special, like you are a part of an organisation that is going somewhere. You look forward to going to work when you know that there is someone at the helm that looks out for us,” she said.

“When you have someone like that who you know cares for you, how can you sit back and allow him to be forced out of a position?” she questioned.

“Last week he was fine. If he was going to willingly resign, he would come to Montego Bay and he would say ‘Listen, this is the situation and I have to move on.’ We got nothing like that. This is not one man who would just step away and leave us like that,” she maintained.

Motor vehicle examiner Neville Robinson said that Hylton, who was appointed acting managing director in December 2020, had served as manager of the northern regional office and general manager of human resources and administration before leaving the organisation for Jamaica Ultimate Tyre Company in 2016.

This was important to note, Robinson told the Observer, as he said that at the time Hylton had personally told the Transport Authority staff of his plans to leave.

“I have been here for 12 years and I have seen three other MDs; Mr Hylton looks out for the best interest of every member of staff. I remember when Mr Hylton was going over to Jamaica Ultimate Tyre Company, he was in charge of HR here and he was going over there. He came to us and said, ‘I love unnu, but the minister asked me to serve another ailing Government office and so I have to go’. Him never haffi come tell we nothing, but that is just who he is,” said Robinson.

“I don’t know who is asking him to resign, but the first thing I would tell them to do is to look at his work. If you are going to fire him, fire him based on the work he is not doing. The route inspectors can tell you, if they are out in the sun doing the work, he is out there with them. It doesn’t even sound as if Willard get a next big work and waan go do it. He would never do it like this either, he would come to us first,” he added.

The workers are vowing to continue showing solidarity with Hylton.

“I am sure that if somebody had asked any one of us to resign, Mr Hylton would stand in solidarity just the same. The western regional office of the Transport Authority stands in solidarity with a brother, father, and a friend. There is so much more that we can do and we believe that with Willard Hylton it will be easier done,” Robinson said.

Added Wood: “He is the best managing director that we have ever had and this pains our hearts. They have to come good to get rid of him. We are not going to accept this right now.”

BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON Observer staff reporter claytonr@jamaicaobserver.com

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