JG - Diplomatic missions affected by transit strike in New York
Diplomatic missions affected by transit strike in New York
published: Thursday December 22, 2005
NEW YORK, CMC:
CARIBBEAN DIPLOMATIC missions in New York said yesterday they were being severely affected by an indefinite strike by transit workers that has crippled the transportation system.
Many diplomats and staffers say while their missions and consulates were open to the public, they could not conduct business as usual, since some staffers were unable to get to their offices in mid-Manhattan.
"Our offices were closed yesterday, because we could not get to work," said Crispin Gregoire, Dominica's ambassador to the United Nations.
The Jamaica Consulate General office said that "a good amount of staff is missing today," and that Consul General Dr. Basil Bryan was out of town on official business, while most staffers at the consulate, the Jamaica Tourist Board, and the Jamaica Information Services have not been able to report for duty.
Ruth Rouse, Grenada's UN ambassador, said no one came to work on Tuesday.
"It took me two hours to get home," said Ambassador Rous, who lives on Roosevelt Island, near the Statue of Liberty, in New York Harbour.
Margaret Hughes-Ferrari, St. Vincent and the Grenadines' UN ambassador, said staffers at the mission and consulate have been able to "car pool."
St. Vincent and the Grenadines' Consul General Cosmus Cozier said he took four hours to get home on Tuesday night, even though he left work an hour early.
"People can't get to us, even though we're there on the job," he said.
Barbados' Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Christopher Hackett and Consul General Jessica Ogle were unavailable for comment, but staffers, who prefer to remain anonymous, said business is relatively slow.
A receptionist at the Antigua and Barbuda Mission said Ambassador John Ash was not at work because of the strike, while Cherry-Ann Millard, Trinidad and Tobago's Deputy Consul General, declined to comment on the effect the strike is having on her office, saying only that "contingency plans are in place."
Millions of New Yorkers yesterday braved the bone-chilling weather to get to work without subways and buses as the mass transit strike entered its second day.
With contract talks stalled, a judge fined the Transport Workers Union (TWU), headed by Trinidadian Roger Toussaint, for each day of the strike.
The union said it would immediately appeal, calling the penalty excessive.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged the union to end the strike.
State Supreme Court Justice Theodore Jones has yet to rule on whether a second union, the Amalgamated Transit Union, will also be fined. The union has two chapters in New York that have joined the strike.
The strike, over wages and pensions, began Tuesday, during the height of the Christmas shopping and tourist season. New York retailers, restaurants and bars are expected to bear much of the brunt of the strike.
The week before Christmas historically accounts for up to 20 per cent of many stores' holiday sales, and consumers who must pay higher taxi fares or face long walks could reduce their spending.