Prasa Union President assures work at agencies and public corporations has stopped
SAN JUAN – As part of Puerto Rico’s demonstrations on International Workers Day, work at many of the island’s government agencies and public corporations has been halted, said the president of the the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority’s (Prasa) Independent Authentic Union, Pedro Irene Maymí.
The public utilities’ services, however, will not be affected, said the president of the Puerto Rican Workers’ Central (CPT) at the Hato Rey Tren Urbano train station, one of the five points from which marches associated with the so-called national strike, which are expected to culminate in front of the fiscal control board’s offices in the Hato Rey financial district.
“[There is] excellent participation. Prasa is being operated by management personnel. We have been in communication with the CEO, with Mr. Ely Díaz, so operations are not affected. The UIA strike is not against Prasa and affecting its services, but so the government and the fiscal control board get the message of rejection [of the austerity policies],” Irene Maymí said. The union leader added that the UIA’s strike since Thursday has no end date.
Operations at agencies and corporations “are paralyzed,” said Irene Maymí, who believes the State Insurance Fund Corp. (CFSE by its Spanish initials) is “totally closed.” He said he hoped there would be no incidents between the demonstrators and the police. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said no violations of the law will be tolerated.
In addition to some 20 unions protesting at the Puerto Rico Coliseum, Juana Díaz Mayor Ramón Hernández, of the Popular Democratic Party minority, was also present and said he was demonstrating against the austerity policies and proposed cuts against the municipalities by the governor and the fiscal control board.
The cuts of up to $350 million in subsidies that the central government grants to municipalities “will affect the operation in each municipality,” Hernández said. He added that in the case of the elimination of the contribution in lieu of taxes (CELI by its Spanish acronym), which allows municipalities to make reduced electric service payments and that the fiscal board proposed be eliminated, will result in a $1.8 million a year blow his municipality.
“I call for sanity, tolerance but, above all, respect the officers of the police, they are public employees who are also living this situation, but the country needs harmony and respect. We are in an abyss; we don’t know how these processes will transpire ahead of the budget. There are gaps,” the mayor said about the demonstration and cuts.
Meanwhile, Federico Torres Montalvo, of the CPT, said this is a “historic” demonstration that is also expected to be “peaceful,” adding, “We are using the right we have to free expression.”
In addition to the UIA and the CPT, at this meeting point there was representation of the Independent Union of Public Building Authority Employees, Independent Brotherhood of Prasa Professionals, the CFSE Employees Union, the CFSE Physicians Union, the Housing Bank Workers Union, the Land Administration’s Union of Independent Employees, the CFSE Auditors Union, the State Unitary Coordinator (CUTE), among others.
There was also the representation of municipalities such as Morovis.
The demonstrators were expected to march toward the fiscal board’s offices at about 10:30 a.m.