Panic gripped parents of several students of Doha Modern Indian School (DMIS) after their children failed to return home on time yesterday following a “wildcat strike” by the school bus drivers.
DMIS principal Jai Gopal Jindal told Gulf Times that the transportation was outsourced to a company and it was a dispute between the transportation firm and the drivers that had led to the disruption in bus services.
“We hope that the matter will be sorted out and things will be normal soon,” he said while explaining that the school had no prior information of any plan by the drivers to abstain from work.
“When we learnt about the situation, we decided to send SMS to all the parents. We also tried to contact the parents by telephone,” he said.
The drivers cited “ill-treatment” by their employers.
The “strike” left children stranded at school, creating panic among their parents. Many of the frightened parents who rushed to the school said they were not immediately informed about the situation by the school authorities.
But the principal said that parents were informed through SMS about the unavailability of transportation and asked them to collect the students from school. Many parents said they had failed to receive the message on time. They said the school should have responded to the situation in a more responsible manner.
As anxious parents crowded the school office, there were heated exchanges of words with the officials. Some of the parents said they received the SMS only around 4pm, after reaching home with children.
The text message also said that parents must make alternative arrangements for transportation until further notice.
One of the drivers told Gulf Times that they were paid “very low” salaries and not properly treated by the company. He said the drivers had represented the matter before the company management long time ago.
“Even when the school reopened this year we requested for a hike but they refused to listen. Today after picking up the children from their homes we had informed the company’s office that we will not be dropping them back. The management has totally ignored us and we were forced to act.”
A parent said she came to know about the problem from another parent around 2.30pm as they were coming from Al Khor to Doha. “My friend’s child had called her using the phone of somebody else. I immediately called my husband who works in Doha and he rushed to the school and collected the children. I was deeply worried until they reached home.”
Another parent said that he was frantic as his child did not reach home on time. “When I tried to call the school, all the lines were engaged and the school driver did not pick up the phone either. I rushed from my workplace to the school and found that many parents had reached and most of them were agitated. I picked up my child and reached home around 3.30pm. Around 4pm I received an SMS from the school informing me of the inconvenience.”