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How the events unfold

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The dispute between the National Omni Bus Association (NOBA) and the government has been simmering for seven years and has brought the two on a collision course this week when NOBA started “indefinite” strike action Wednesday. Up to news time, Wednesday night, NOBA was maintaining its stance and said 85 per cent of it members supported the strike.{{more}}

The following is a chronology of the events,

which culminated in the September 20, 2006 action:

1. In 1999 in response to a request from NOBA for a fare increase, government granted a hike for selected routes. Some operators did not implement the increase because of resistance from passengers;

2. The price of fuel increased four times since 2000 prompting more calls for a fare increase;

3. Buses went on a wildcat strike Wednesday August 23,2006 following the fourth increase in two years;

4. Negotiations started with government, which offered to subsidise fuel by paying forty cents per gallon for diesel up to 286 gallons per bus per month;

5. NOBA said that the subsidy was inadequate. They also asked for other concession including those on spare parts, tyres, and licenses.

6. Government offered to examine subsidy on tyres but said it could not offer concessions on licenses.

7. NOBA had a change of heart, rejecting the subsidy and requested a fare increase instead (see NOBAs proposed fare increase far right);

8. Government ruled out a fare increase and kept its subsidy offer on the table;

9. Talks broke down and NOBA announced that it would stage an indefinite strike starting Wednesday September 20, 2006;

10. Hours before the strike, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves appeared on several radio call-in programmes as well as on national television setting out the government’s case and appealed to the minibus operators not to strike.

11. With the clock ticking the Chamber of Commerce offered to mediate.

12. Very late Tuesday night NOBA accepted the mediation offer but said that strike action will continue.

13. Wednesday morning a large number of buses remained off the route and the action appeared to be largely successful.

14. Government’s chief negotiator, Prime Minister Gonsalves, left St Vincent and the Grenadines for New York where he was scheduled to address the United Nations Thursday;

15. Businesses report an impact, as some employees were unable to get to work;

16. Chamber of Commerce and NOBA held afternoon talks last Wednesday.

Updates to this story can be read at the SEARCHLIGHT website http://www.searchlight.vc

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