Saturday, October 29, 2011
BY MARIA MIRANDA
Of the Daily Sun Staff
Dozens of Medical Services Administration (ASEM as the public corporation is known by its Spanish acronym) workers held a protest Wednesday morning at the Medical Center’s public square in Río Piedras and subsequently approved a strike vote to take effect as soon as they deem necessary.
The workers held the protest prior to the holding of a special assembly in which they voted in favor of the strike, slated to begin within the next few days.
Workers affiliated with the General Workers Union (UGT as the union is known by its Spanish acronym) met in the morning with the Board of Directors where they announced the decision made on the collective bargaining agreement.
UGT President Manuel Perfecto said that the union has been negotiating the collective agreement for over a year, but the administration has denied granting workers salary hikes during the next three years.
Perfecto said that the administration’s response is unacceptable.
Moments after the workers announced their decision to go on strike, ASEM Director Ernesto Torres announced that some funds had been found from some payments that had recently been made to the public corporation, and the administration was calling on the UGT to meet for further negotiations tomorrow at (Friday) at 2 p.m.
“To this day, ASEM’s offer has been zero economic raises, including salary hikes for the next three years,” Perfecto said.
Perfecto said that he hopes Friday’s negotiations go well and that the administration makes a “reasonable economic offer.”
“If they don’t, the UGT will put into effect the vote to strike as soon as we deem necessary,” Perfecto said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Fortuño said that there is no reason for ASEM workers to go on strike, as the administration is willing to negotiate.
“There is no reason for a strike much less when the people’s health is involved,” the governor said.
Fortuño asked Labor Secretary Miguel Romero to participate “as a mediator” in the labor conflict between the ASEM administration and the UGT.
In a press release, Romero stated that the governor said “that we can’t allow the health services offered by ASEM to be affected because negotiations between workers and the administration are stuck.”
“In an attempt to avoid affecting the health services in ASEM I have asked the union and the administration to have a formal conversation about the labor situation and that we find solutions that meet the workers and health services claims,” Romero said.
Romero said that given the importance of the situation he will personally serve as the mediator during negotiations between both parties.