Hospital Association Sends Warning Signal due to Port Strike
Hospital Association President Jaime Plá Cortés on Tuesday said the strike that began last July 17 in the San Juan ports due to a union labor dispute could eventually interfere with the COVID-19 services patients are receiving and could also affect the entire health industry.
In a press release, Plá Cortes noted that 18 to 20 freight wagons destined to Puerto Rico with health supplies were diverted to other destinations due to the conflict between stevedores of the Ports Workers Union (UTM by its Spanish initials), and Luis A. Ayala Colón Sucrs. Inc., one of the largest stevedoring contractors and shipping agencies in Puerto Rico. Most of the ships diverted are carrying international cargo.
“There is great concern because the largest manufacturing industry of surgical medical supplies for Puerto Rico hospitals is in Asia. The cargo includes disposable equipment and supplies, such as masks, gloves, suture material, plastic containers, and cleaning items,” said Plá Cortes.
The controversy has boiled down to Navis, software that the company wants operated by its non-union personnel. The union declared the strike, which impeded the distribution of non-essential goods, but many companies have claimed the disruption is having dire effects on pharmaceutical manufacturers and other companies, as well as basic services.
Meanwhile, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi asked the federal government to intervene in the controversy since the commonwealth authorities lack jurisdiction if no laws are being broken.