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Issue # 1402      11 March 2009

Puerto Rican unions against layoffs

San Juan: Puerto Rican Governor Luis G Fortuño’s decision to fire 30,000 public employees will create social unrest, union leader Jose Rodriguez has warned.

Puerto Rican Workers’ Federation (FTPR) said the governor was trying to punish less privileged sectors to favour large interests.

“We are not going to allow workers to be sacrificed, while rich and large interests remain untouched,” said the unionist.

Fortuño announced that he would establish austerity measures for two years, thus reducing his US$70,000 monthly salary by 10 percent, and five percent for cabinet members.

He will also establish a public employee voluntary retirement plan that could lay off 30,000 workers, in what he described as the first step to bring the country out of “its worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression” in 1930.

The governor is trying to cut a day in the half-month salary of workers with over 20 years in the public service, as another way to bring the government out of a fiscal deficit of over US$3.2 billion.

He also announced that the government would freeze salary hikes in the next two years and other economic benefits of its 300,000 workers.

Rodriguez said the unions would be ready to take to the streets because the measure could shoot unemployment up from 13 to 25 percent.

Prensa Latina

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