Fiscal board makes pact with truckers to avoid stoppage

By John McPhaul

The federal Financial Oversight and Management Board announced Sunday that it reached an agreement with the United Truckers Organization to avoid a stoppage in cargo transportation in Puerto Rico starting today.

“The Financial Oversight and Manage-ment Board recognizes the important role that the trucking sector and its workers represent for the people and economy of Puerto Rico,” the oversight board said in a written statement. “Likewise, they also recognize the right of truck operators to be paid equitably for the essential services they provide.”

“Due to the recent call for a strike by local transportation truck operators, the Oversight Board has reached an agreement to re-evaluate the regulations regarding the Puerto Rico trucking industry,” the board’s statement reads. “The Oversight Board has also agreed that internal memo 35-2020 of the Bureau of Transportation and other Public Services [NTSP by its Spanish acro-nym], which establishes the new temporary minimum land freight rates, will continue in force, on the condition that transport truck operators do not paralyze operations, while the Supervisory Board re-examines the regulatory framework of the land trans-port sector.”

“The Oversight Board will continue to meet with representatives of the truckers, including the United Truckers, the busi-ness community and the Government of Puerto Rico, to establish a constructive dialogue, evaluating their needs and the best interests of the people of Puerto Rico, including during the process of reviewing the Fiscal Plan,” the statement added. “The Oversight Board believes that the NTSP has the authority to regulate land transportation under the laws of the Government of Puerto Rico, and to establish minimum rates for certain forms of transportation. At the same time, the Oversight Board also reiterates its authority under PROMESA [the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act] to approve regulations and impose structural reforms in the Fiscal Plan.”

“The Oversight Board looks forward to meeting with the transportation truck operators and participating in a construc-tive dialogue to assess their needs and the best interests of the people of Puerto Rico,” the statement said.

With the agreement, the truckers called off the work stoppage scheduled for today.

“The board recognized in the first place that truckers are an essential service to the country, and also recognized that the tariffs negotiated with the Bureau of Transportation on Sept. 20 of 2020 stays in effect,” a union representative said at a press conference. “Therefore the Board dropped its intention to change the current tariffs, which is a great victory for the truckers of the country.”

Last Wednesday, Carlos Schettini, the that as of today cargo transportation in Puerto Rico would be paralyzed until the oversight board desisted from disavowing the new transportation rates.

“On Monday, transportation in Puerto Rico is going to stop,” Schettini said in an interview with CyberNews. “We are call-ing on all carriers in the country to keep the key in their pockets, to stop and not return to their jobs until this tariff problem is resolved.”

“It is a call for a permanent assembly,” he added. “We stop on Monday. When the problem is solved, we go back to our jobs.”

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