SAN JUAN – Employees of state-owned enterprises in Puerto Rico launched job actions on Thursday to pressure the government to halt its plan to cut their pay and benefits to address budget deficits.
Union leaders recently had announced that if the government did not change its stance on damaging the rights of public employees via legislation they would take to the streets.
The unions’ initiative has caused uncertainty among the public and the authorities with the circulation of rumors that the job actions would affect essential public services such as electricity and water.
The main consequence of the measures on Thursday was the interruption of the bus transport system in San Juan, which resulted from the gathering of workers in front of the Metropolitan Bus Authority’s depots.
Members of the TUAMA union began crowding around the firm’s facilities starting early in the morning preventing the vehicles from moving out onto the streets.
TUAMA president Antonio Dias told Efe that the interruption in service may continue into Friday.
The relatively low number of commuters regularly opting to travel by bus, however, meant that traffic was not markedly affected in the capital.
State-owned insurer CFSE also found itself forced on Thursday to halt its operations due to workers gathering at the doors of its offices.
The protests were joined on Thursday by employees of the state water company AAA, auto insurer ACAA and the Highway and Transportation Authority.
Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s administration in recent months has noted how the downgrading of Puerto Rico’s credit rating has been limiting its ability to receive financing in the debt markets.
The unions are rejecting a pair of administration bills that include measures to balance public finances by spending reductions and the renegotiation of collective agreements.