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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Labor coalition: ‘LUMA is worse than what we had’

Puerto Rican Workers Central President Emilio Nieves Torres

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rican Workers Central (CPT by its Spanish initials) President Emilio Nieves Torres said Tuesday that in a statement delivered to Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia the union is demanding the cancellation of the contract with LUMA Energy to manage the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) transmission and distribution system, stating that “the people have come to the conclusion that LUMA is worse than what we had.”

In the statement the labor coalition says that the private consortium has not lived up to expectations and that energy customers have experienced the effects of the contract with rate increases, blackouts, explosions, electrical appliances damaged by power outages, loss of refrigerated food, aggravated health conditions of patients who depend on electrical equipment for their treatments, and a lack of experienced personnel, among other situations.

The letter adds that the “communities, merchants, businessmen, mayors and other sectors … continue to denounce LUMA’s deficiencies in the transmission and distribution of electrical energy.”

“The people’s conclusion, which is reaffirmed every day, is that LUMA is worse than what we had,” the letter said. “It is urgent that the government resume the transmission and distribution of electricity with a depoliticized governance in PREPA and give way to a transformation agenda in which public funds (state and federal) are used to urgently implement the public policy of the use of renewable energy sources to reduce electricity rates.”

Nieves Torres called on the people to “demonstrate against LUMA, demanding the cancellation of the contract and the reduction of the electricity rate.”

“On July 20 [today], all of Puerto Rico will have the opportunity to demand that PREPA’s debt restructuring include a significant debt cut that avoids further increases in electricity rates in the next 30 years and rules out the cutting of workers’ present and future pensions,” the labor leader said. “They are calls for social justice that require urgent attention.”

The CPT organizations included in the letter other issues related to the implementation of Law 80, which grants an incentivized retirement to more than 10,000 workers, given that the governor’s programmatic commitment is a fair pension of at least 50 percent of the retired public employee’s salary. In addition, they are demanding that the administration of funds of public employees covered by the 106 Retirement Plan be investigated along with the alleged loss of thousands of dollars in their individual retirement accounts as a result of investments made by the company Alight Solutions.

“These claims are urgent and require an immediate response from the Governor,” the union leader said in the letter to the governor.

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