Socialist Workers Movement demand Labor Dept. to ‘pay for unemployment now!’

MST protest via convoy to La Fortaleza to demand for more than 60,000 claimants to receive financial aid from DTRH amid the COVID-19 pandemic

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star

Spokespersons from the Socialist Workers Movement (MST by its Spanish initials) called for citizens Monday to join their convoy protest that began at the front of the Department of Labor and Human Resource (DTRH by its Spanish initials) headquarters and ended in La Fortaleza to demand that more 60,000 claimants receive unemployment financial aid as they have not obtained any since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March.

MST Spokeswoman Isabel Berrios said that yesterday, as it was Labor Day, should be renamed Unemployment Day as “job opportunities have been slumping for more than a decade.” She said that due to the coronavirus disease, unemployment rates have reached historical levels, as more than 20% of Puerto Rico’s population is jobless.

“We have a labor department that has been incapable of addressing every claim that has occurred due to unemployment. There are more than 60,000 claims that remain unattended and hundreds of thousands more that have controversial points which the DTRH has taken no action,” Berrios said. “That represents thousands of Puerto Rican families that have no income or enough to survive. They are facing precarious conditions due to this criminal negligence and the government’s total incapacity to attend the working class’ needs at the midst of the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Berrios calls for DTRH Secretary Carlos Rivera Santiago to disburse every fund for the unemployment insurance and guarantee its payment immediately “to provide relief to the thousands of families that have suffered as for this negligence.”

“We also take this space to denounce the rampant corruption on our legislature, because while thousands of hard-working families in Puerto Rico suffer as we have an eden of contracts inside our legislature, ghost employees, nepotism and people getting the ‘good life’ at the expense of the Puerto Rican people,” she said as she called for citizens to get out of their homes, occupy the streets and demand for a better outcome.

On the other hand, MST Spokesman Ricardo Santos Ortiz said the DTRH has failed to oversight the working conditions on hospitals as six nurses have passed away due to COVID-19.

“The DTRH should have intervened at hospitals as they are not putting the correct safety protocols in action and haven’t provided the sanitary resources to our nurses so they can work without putting their lives at risk day by day,” Ortiz Santos said. “6 working women, 6 nurses have passed away because of the attitude that hospitals have taken and the DTRH’s negligence to not take action as they should have. The only thing the government has done is to allocate financial incentives towards hospitals that don’t care for their workers and have laid off hundreds of them at the moment when we need a robust healthcare system.”

Santos Ortiz also said that in this “Unemployment Day that working citizens should not forget about those who have passed away due to the coronavirus disease as they carried “the weight of this sanitary crisis on their shoulders,” while calling for others to “not have their arms crossed and join other workers for better welfare.

Moreover, as The Star asked Santos Ortiz if this was the first time to protest, Santos Ortiz said that this is their tenth year demanding DTRH for better labor welfare.

“The only difference now is that, this year, we are demanding this in the middle of a pandemic,” he said.