Workers’ struggles: the Americas – world socialist web site
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Puerto Rican electricians strike over COVID-19 claims and contract with government
The Puerto Rican Electric Industry and Irrigation Workers Union (UTIER) called for a walkout on May 12 over inadequate anti-COVID-19 measures. UTIER representatives visited a number of work sites and noted a general lack of respect for safety protocols. These included temperature monitoring, social distancing, disinfection of work areas, provision of personal protective equipment, and the availability of soap and hand sanitizer.
UTIER also reiterated its demand that the government cancel its contract with LUMA Energy to supply electricity to the island. The union says the contract will raise rates and take away workers’ rights and pensions, while giving LUMA the right to leave in the event of a hurricane, earthquake or other disaster. He called on lawmakers to overturn Governor Pedro Pierluisi’s recent veto on a resolution that postpones the contract.
Belizean civil service workers and teachers’ strike over pay cut
Members of the Belize National Teachers Union and the Civil Service Union struck last week to demand the cancellation of a 10 percent pay cut and a freeze on increases for public sector workers approved by the legislators of the country. In Belize City, picketers marched and gathered in front of the Culture House, the site of a cabinet ministers meeting. Demonstrations also took place in Belmopan, Benque Viejo del Carmen and other towns.
Union officials, meanwhile, held negotiations with government officials. They characterized the country’s fiscal crisis as the result of corruption and inefficiency and claim that it can be mitigated through various “good governance” legislative measures.
Dominica: College teachers and staff strike over long-standing grievances
Professors and staff at Dominica State College (DSC) on the island of Dominica went on strike on May 10 over demands that have been ignored by the administration for years. Among their grievances, some of which date back to 2014, are poor working conditions, contract gaps and a drop in their monthly base salary from EC $ 4,000 to 3,200 ($ 1,480 to $ 1,184). ).
The workers underline the dismal state of the infrastructure: lack of furniture and doors in the classrooms, no electricity in some rooms, no library, auditorium, computer rooms or technical / professional workshops. Other complaints concern the actions of the college president, who unilaterally imposed a three- to five-year probation period before being eligible for permanent employment and has yet to pay a three percent increase dating from l school year 2017-2018.
When workers gathered at the DSC compound that day to stage a protest, Commonwealth police and security personnel prevented the action and escorted them off campus. They were informed that they had also been made redundant. They then staged a protest outside the DSC compound, displaying signs and chants. Prime Minister Dr Roosevelt Skerrit and Minister of Housing and Urban Development berated the protesters, alleging they had a ruthless contempt for students and were politically motivated. Since then, meetings between the cabinet secretary, administration and the Dominica civil service union have been scheduled. DSC staff have decided to stay on strike until there is a resolution.