Approval of labor measures put on hold in House, Senate

By John McPhaul

Measures to restore rights to workers that were removed in the past as well as to raise the minimum wage in Puerto Rico were not approved earlier this week by the island Senate and House of Representatives.

The chairs of the Labor Affairs committees of the House and Senate, Domingo Torres García and Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, respectively, said Wednesday night after their committees did not concur with the amendments proposed to House Bill (HB) 3, that they will continue to work together to approve a bill that provides labor justice to the workers of Puerto Rico in the next legislative session, which begins on Aug. 16.

HB 3 seeks to amend Law 4-2017, known as the Labor Transformation and Flexibility Law, with the purpose of restoring labor rights reduced by the so-called labor reform.

“This [Wednesday] afternoon, the chairwoman of the Human Rights and Labor Affairs Committee, Senator Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, and I [Torres García], decided to postpone the vote on this measure until next August,” Torres García, of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), said in a written statement. “This agreement will give us more time to analyze the different amendments tailored to reach an agreement for the benefit of the country’s working class. I am sure that the senator and yours truly will continue working hard, prioritizing open dialogue to attend to a bill that provides labor justice to the workers of Puerto Rico.”

For her part, Rivera Lassén maintained that her committee “carefully evaluated this measure, which is complex and comprehensive.”

“We provided a detailed report justifying the proposed amendments,” said the Citizen Victory Movement senator. “We will continue the dialogue and analysis of them so that they can be discussed in their entirety, always with the goal of restoring and expanding the rights of workers.”

In August legislators will take up the proposed increase in the minimum wage

PDP Rep. Héctor Ferrer Santiago said meanwhile that “in the same way that we have fought since the first day I was sworn in as a representative, during this closing session we have negotiated agreements with all the delegations and La Fortaleza to do justice by our workers by approving an increase in the minimum wage to $9 [per hour].”

“Despite having closed the session without the approval of the conference report, we will not rest and we will fight for this legislation to be one of the first to be approved at the beginning of the next session in August,” Ferrer Santiago said in a written statement.

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