Female PREPA workers protest the loss of their jobs

By The Star Staff

A group of female Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) workers held a protest Monday in front of the agency’s offices in repudiation of the transmission and distribution (T&D) contract with LUMA Energy.

Thousands of PREPA workers who did not apply for jobs with LUMA Energy for various reasons, including fears of losing their pension benefits, were transferred to other government agencies to “non-existent jobs” or to perform work for which they are not qualified, the group said.

“The objective is to take over the agency, fire thousands of workers who have dedicated decades of effort and knowledge to PREPA, in addition to eliminating in one blow all the rights acquired by the workers through collective bargaining,” reads a statement from the protesters, who are members of the Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union, the primary union for PREPA employees.

The PREPA Retirees Association, the Puerto Rican Workers’ Union, the Puerto Rican Organization of Women Workers and the Puerto Rico Teachers Federation, among other labor groups, joined the women in their protest, which took place a day after Puerto Rico celebrated Mother’s Day.

“Hundreds of women work at PREPA, most of them working mothers and many of them single mothers whose only family income is from PREPA,” the women said in a statement. “We are working women who at this time have had our subsistence threatened, about to join the unemployment and poverty statistics of our country. We are many working mothers with children with health conditions, with functional diversity, some bedridden, who require special care and that can only be paid for with an adequate medical plan.”

The group denounced being made “a victim of Institutional Violence of the State,” referring to the contracting out of PREPA’s T&D system to a private operator.

The private consortium LUMA Energy plans to assume control of the utility’s T&D system on June 1.

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