Union leader warns ‘Single Employer’ could cause dismissals
SAN JUAN – After Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed the Single Employer Act, Puerto Rican Workers Central (CPT) President Pedro Irene Maymí expressed doubt over the law’s ability to create jobs, and even posited it could lead to dismissals.
“This Single Employer Act opens the door to transfer an employee from the public sector to the private sector, and if the private sector eventually considers it doesn’t need them, they fire that employee. They can construct dismissals even within the same agency. The agency would only need to tell that employee in Humacao that they need him in Mayagüez. It would obviously force that employee to quit their job if they are unable to travel or relocate,” he said.
According to Irene Maymí, the new law is similar to labor reform, in the sense that Rosselló’s administration didn’t present evidence to prove how many jobs would be created under the law. The union leader also noted the different ways the law will affect public employees hired before its approval.
“Here, government employees lose their character of belonging to the agency or corporation they work for, and pass on to be government employees regardless of the agency or corporation. This brings uncertainty, because on one hand, people are told the law doesn’t apply to public corporations; but on the other hand, the law has a decree that states it doesn’t apply to corporations, except for mobility. That is, it allows employees to be transferred from corporations to agencies, municipalities, or in the worst-case scenario, to public-private alliances,” he said in a Radio Isla 1320 interview.
Irene Maymí indicated that under the new law, employees may be transferred between agencies, and once they conclude the collective-bargaining agreement to which they belong, they may be told they will begin working as new employees in the agency they were transferred to. He emphasized that the law only guarantees workers’ salaries.
The union leader believes that the Single Employer Act could enable employers with bad intentions to go against workers, in order to cause dismissals inside the government sector.
“Employers find the way to evade laws. I have a corporation, I want to fire employees, I only need to say I have economic problems, go bankrupt, and reopen with a new name, or under a restructure protected by the bankruptcy law, and hire employees once again with fewer benefits. As the Puerto Rican slang goes, the one who made the law, also made the loophole,” he indicated.
Irene Maymí announced that workers’ response will resonate, and that on Thursday they will hold protests in front of the Sheraton Hotel in the Convention Center, where a meeting will take place between government officials and the private sector. The protest will express opposition both to the new law, as well as the Fiscal Oversight & Management Board decisions that could have a negative impact on the island.