Puerto Rico Bar president denounces fiscal board’s labor requirements
SAN JUAN – In a statement Thursday, Puerto Rico Bar Association President Alejandro Torres denounced the measures that the island’s fiscal oversight board “continues to implement and propose…via the executive branch, that negatively affect the working class” and “in no way” support the island’s economic growth.
The fiscal board and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló recently reached an agreement on certain labor reform measures, among which is the requirement that Act 80 be repealed. The law prohibits unjustified dismissals on the island, and the legislature would have to nullify it as part of the bargain for the board to desist from demanding that a year-end worker salary payment be eliminated, and vacation and sick leave days not be cut in half.
“Act 80 does not prohibit dismissals if it conforms to the concept of ‘just cause’ that the law itself contemplates. However, if the dismissal is unjustified, the law does not give total impunity to the employer, thus establishing his economic responsibility to the worker,” the lawyer said.
Torres also urged the island’s legislature to defend “its constitutional prerogatives that the control board intends to usurp.”
The association’s head, a career labor attorney, further explained his position, saying: “It is not surprising that because of our colonial condition we are at the mercy of a Control Board imposed by the United States Congress. This board, which is undemocratic, wanted since its inception to implement alleged austerity measures [that] focused on the most vulnerable population. In that sense, the Legislature, as the direct representative of the people, must fight to prevent its faculties from being wrested and defend the rights of both the workers and Puerto Rican business people, who are the ones who will be affected by this initiative.”
In 2016, the year the fiscal board was created, the Bar Association’s governing board approved Resolution 24, rejecting the oversight panel’s establishment.