Head of firefighters union, La Fortaleza officials to meet over walkout
By John McPhaul
Puerto Rico Firefighters Union President José Tirado García said Tuesday that he was called to a meeting at La Fortaleza with Chief of Staff Noelia García Bardales due to the planned absenteeism of firefighters announced for today, Feb. 2, the Day of La Candelaria, which officially ends the Christmas season for Catholics.
“I just received a call a few minutes ago from La Fortaleza where [Chief of Staff] Noelia García is scheduling us for a meeting tomorrow at ten in the morning,” Tirado García said in an interview with CyberNews.
“The problem is that the increase has not been given to firefighters, who only receive $1,500 a month, and who live on $580 every two weeks,” he said. “There is no way to live on that money.”
Tirado García added that “today, according to information that came out, in the Bayamón District all the firefighters who are working now started their shift from 11 to 7 and they had no one relieving them and so they are stuck on shifts.”
“But they are not supposed to work more than 16 hours,” the union leader said. “If the relief shift does not come, they have to close those stations.”
Tirado García said the situation is the same in Salinas, Mayagüez and San Germán, among other towns.
“This is a movement that is born from them [the firefighters] and we have to support them,” he said. “There is not going to be any change until La Fortaleza decides what measures it is going to take and how this matter is going to be resolved. It has to be now, as it was given to the police and the teachers. And not only that, that dignified retirement be resolved and that it be extended to them [firefighters] as well. If they identified funds for 7,000 policemen, why don’t they give it to 500 additional people who are in the Department of Public Safety?”