Bus drivers' strike in Prague passes largely unnoticed

21-06-2004

Just before eight o'clock on Monday morning, passengers on some public transport buses in Prague could hear the drivers talking to the control centre for longer than usual. They drivers were making last minute confirmations with the control centre whether or not they were going to take part in a planned 20-minute strike during the morning rush-hour.

The bus drivers' union announced a protest against a new traffic law amendment which, among other things, proposes tougher punishments for professional drivers who commit traffic offences. Under the proposed law, police officers could impose higher fines on bus drivers or confiscate their driver's licences on the spot.

At 8 am on Monday, the bus drivers who joined the protest, pulled up at the nearest stop and let the passengers out. Many people, myself included, had therefore left for work earlier on Monday morning to avoid getting stuck for twenty minutes in the middle of the bus route. Stanislav Havrlik is the head of the Prague bus drivers' union.

Bus drivers, photo: CTKBus drivers, photo: CTK "The drivers pulled up at eight at a stop, explained to the passengers that they were not going to move for twenty minutes and allowed them to get off if they wanted to. Twenty minutes later the drivers radioed to the control centre they were ready to go back to work."

Protest actions of public transport drivers are not a common occurrence in Prague. Despite that Monday's strike passed largely unnoticed, partly because it was so short and partly because only about 10 percent of Prague's bus drivers took part in it. The bus drivers' union is going to present their objections to the lower house of parliament on Tuesday before the chamber begins a discussion on the traffic law amendment.

21-06-2004