Puerto Rico unions are demonstrating and striking against austerity measures being imposed by the federal Oversight Board.

Several unions are demonstrating against Puerto Rico House Bill 938, which would cut government employee benefits such as medical leave, vacation days, and employer contributions to the medical plan. The Puerto Rico House and Senate are expected to vote on the bill in the next few days. The bill stems from the fiscal plan that the Oversight Board approved in March as part of its mission to guide the territory through its debt crisis.

The federally-appointed board adopted the 10 year fiscal plan to deal with a financial crisis stemming from a decade of government operating deficits and borrowing and roughly a decade of nearly continuous economic decline. The plan put parameters on government spending and taxing as well as put strict limits on the payment of debt in the next nine fiscal years.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has a $9 billion debt load.
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has a $9 billion debt load.

The primary union for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, UTIER, is planning a 24 hour strike starting at 6 a.m. on Monday, May 1. At 1:10 p.m. Thursday PREPA said it didn’t yet have a comment on the strike.

On Wednesday hospital workers had partially blockaded one hospital, preventing at leas some patients from entering, according to the State Insurance Fund Corp. On Thursday, truckers with other grievances deliberately slowed traffic on a highway from Bayamón to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rican Workers Center, which coordinates union actions, called for unions to demonstrate against House Bill 938 on Thursday morning in front of the legislative building. It also called for a march to the San Juan offices of the Oversight Board on Monday.

In the meantime, students, staff, and professors at several University of Puerto Rico campuses remain on strike against plans to cut $450 million in central government aid for the university.

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