Sudden bus driver strike sparks transport problems for parents

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Many parents in Doha are scrambling to arrange transportation home from school for their children today after bus drivers at three private schools went on strike yesterday afternoon, demanding better pay and treatment.

Cambridge School of Doha, Cambridge International School for Girls and Doha Modern Indian School (DMIS), which are all operated by the Al Taleb Group, were affected by the strike, which left more than 1,000 children stuck at school after hours.

Many parents complained that they were not properly notified of the strike, which schools officials said they only heard about at noon on Sunday.

On Twitter, one user said his child finished school at noon, but he did not receive a text message informing him of the transportation problems until 1pm.

According to the Peninsula, the contracting company that manages the bus drivers is a subsidiary of the Al Taleb Group, Al Watan International Trading & Contracting Co.

Al Taleb group declined to comment to Doha News, referring questions to the schools. But a source at the company told the Peninsula that it has filed a police report against the drivers.

DMIS is closed today because of the South Indian holiday Onam, but a senior official who manages transportation at the school told Doha News that they are still uncertain about what will happen tomorrow.

“The strike is still not sorted out,” Mohammed Siddique said, adding that more than 1,200 students were affected yesterday. In terms of drivers’ pay, he said Indians and Nepalis make QR1,300/month to drive the small, 26-seater buses, while Egyptians and other Arabs are paid QR1,800 to QR1,900.

The school also has six 66-seater buses, for which Asian expats are paid QR1,800 to drive, and Arabs paid QR2,800 monthly. The drivers of these buses have told Siddique they are ready to return to work tomorrow, but the fate of the 34 small buses remain unclear.

Have you been affected by the strike? Thoughts?

Credit: Photo for illustrative purposes only by Richard Messenger

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