PRASA plant operators declare 24-hour work stoppage
By The Star Staff
The plant operators of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) declared a 24-hour strike on Monday in protest of the austerity policy of the Financial Oversight and Management Board.
“This is a demonstration of repudiation of the Fiscal Control Board [sic] that interrupts our salary improvements and benefits,” Independent Authentic Union (UIA by its Spanish initials) President Luis de Jesús Rivera said in a written statement.
In a communication with PRASA Executive President Doriel Pagán Crespo, de Jesús Rivera stressed that the action does not seek to interrupt basic services, instead allowing the tasks to be assumed by management personnel. He insisted that the plant operators are exercising their right to strike, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
The strike was to culminate Monday night, allowing union members to celebrate Labor Day with their families, he said, adding that the stoppage is part of the continuation of a series of demonstrations seeking respect and improvements in labor negotiations.
The relationship between the UIA and management has been tense, marked by disagreements over the austerity policies implemented by the oversight board, which the union says are hindering salary improvements and fringe benefits for its members.
“Our intention is not to cause major disruptions, but rather to exercise our constitutional right to protest,” de Jesús Rivera said.
Later on Monday, Pagán Crespo, the PRASA executive director, stated her willingness to talk with the UIA with the aim of addressing her claims.
Pagán Crespo stressed the collaborative attitude that PRASA has maintained.
“We reiterate our commitment to dialogue with the UIA to address their claims,” she said in a written statement, pointing out that PRASA has already agreed to mediation and is awaiting the union’s response. “It is important to emphasize that we are already subject to mediation. PRASA acted and signed the established agreement, we are still waiting for the Union.”
“The intransigence of some cannot go above the common good,” the PRASA chief added.
As a preventive measure, PRASA has implemented contingency plans to guarantee the continuity of basic services to citizens, Pagán Crespo said.
“Meanwhile, and with the goal of not harming Puerto Ricans, PRASA has activated its contingency plan, which includes, but is not limited to, the use of management personnel to operate the plants,” she said.