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Hundreds stranded as workers of lone bus firm plying Cotabato-Davao route go on strike

/ 08:32 PM February 10, 2016

COTABATO CITY – Hundreds of commuters bound for Davao were stranded here Wednesday as the lone bus firm plying the Cotabato-Davao route suspended its operations due to workers’ strike.

Commuters heading to Davao and the provinces of North Cotabato, Davao del Sur and Davao Occidental were forced to take commuter vans parked just outside the terminal to ferry passengers.

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But many opted to cancel their trips instead of taking the Toyota D4D vans for personal reasons.

“We take the bus for simple reason – convenience on our part, especially our children,” Sitti Hanna Ambalgan, a regular bus passenger told reporters outside the Mindanao Star bus terminal along Don Rufino Alonzo Avenue.

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Elmo, a bus driver, said all the drivers, conductors, inspectors and other employees of the Mindanao Star, formerly Weena Bus, decided to go on a sit-down strike to demand what was due them.

“We were promised a wage increase but it has remained a promise to date,” a man who called himself Elmo and refused to give his real name, said.

Elmo who works an average of two trips daily from Cotabato City to Davao and vice versa said “we are working beyond eight hours on risky trips yet our pay is way below the allowed wage rate.”

Efforts to reach the management or its representative here proved futile as it refused to face reporters.

“We are overworked and underpaid,” a bus conductor said, refusing to give his name.

But if he had his way, he would have wanted to work because the strike meant they would have not take-home pay.  “It would be difficult for the strike go a long way,” he admitted.

Anselma Ping, another commuter said it was her first trip to Davao via a public commuter van. “Vans are speeding vehicles, drivers appear to be racing and it is dangerous,” the visibly reluctant van passenger said, telling the van driver not to over-speed.

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Some 75 commuter vans have hauled passengers from Mindanao Star terminal here on Wednesday, alone. “We line up here to serve the commuting public,” Ali Djamel Mohammad, UV Express van driver, said.  SFM

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TAGS: Bus Company, bus conductors, Bus drivers, bus inspectors, Cotabato City, Cotabato-Davao route, Davao City, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental, Mindanao Star, news, North Cotabato, public utility bus, Regions, stranded commuters, stranding, Wage increase, Weena Bus, workers' strike
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