Puerto Rico

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Sun Jul 5 12:22:02 PDT 1998

[forwarded by Michael E, but it bounced for technical reasons, like the next]

Date: 07/05 4:51 AM Received: 07/05 5:51 AM From: Carlos Quiros, cquiros at compuserve.com To: The Organizer, theorganizer at labornet.org

************ GENERAL STRIKE BY PUERTO RICAN WORKERS ************* ************** Please forward as may be appropiate **************


Workers in Puerto Rico are in urgent need of your solidarity. Since June 18, 6,400 Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC) workers have been on an indefinite strike in protest against the government's plan to sell this state-owned company to US-based GTE corporation. This strike is not about wages or working conditions, but directly against the government's privatization policy. Public support has been widespread to the point that it is known as the People's Strike.

The striking unions are the Independent Union of Telephone Employees (UIET), which represents the workers that do the technical and repair work, and the Independent Brotherhood of Telephone Employees (HIETEL), which organizes office workers. Both unions, as well as the labor movement, have called on the governor to celebrate a popular referendum on the PRTC privatization, but this call has been ignored.

On July 7 and 8, the Broad Committe of Labor Organizations, a coalition of more than 60 unions, student, religious and civic groups will organize a 48 hour general strike in support of the striking PRTC workers and against the government's privatization policy. It is expected that more than 100,000 workers will shut down this Caribbean island, including banking, commerce, tourism and manufacturing.

The privatization pf PRTC has been sharply rejected by a mayority of sectors in Puerto Rico, including the labor movement, the churches, civic and women's organizations, as well as the island's two opposition parties. According to recent polls a clear mayority of Puerto Ricans oppose the sale. Only the governing New Progressive Party, the Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial's Association have backed PRTC privatization in the name of "globalization" and increased "competitiveness".

The sale of PRTC is part of an aggressive privatization program developed by Governor Pedro Rossello, whose administration is selling off public hospitals and state-owned hotels and has repeatedly tried to establish a school voucher program.

The government's reaction to the strike has been extremely violent. Riot police have beaten and tear-gassed strikers as well as members of the press. For more information on the strike (including pictures) please point your browser to: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/9169/ http://www.utier.org/solidaridad.html http://palahuelga.rforest.net

OUR APPEAL IS URGENT. Even though we recognize that this battle must be fought and won in Puerto Rico, international solidarity is extremely important to us. Dr. Pedro Rossello, Puerto Rico's Governor is extremely sensitive to this kind of international pressure as his political ambitions and his "new" economic plan depend heavily on U.S. and other foreign investment as well as increased tourism. Any indication that his anti-worker's actions are known and rejected internationally will no doubt benefit our struggle.

WE URGE YOU TO ACT NOW. Although the General Strike is set for July 7 and 8, PRTC workers have been on strike since June 18 and will continue this struggle until the sale is stopped or there is a referendum over this issue.

YOUR E-MAIL AT THIS TIME IS NEEDED. All that we ask is that you to e-mail a short letter. Explain who you are and make your concern known. Particularly important to us are messages from labor unions, churches, women's organizations, professional and other groups.

PLEASE ENCOURAGE OTHER GROUPS TO SEND AN E-MAIL. Your solidarity at this time could help tip the balance in favor of our struggle for worker's rights in Puerto Rico and against privatization of public services.

The following e-mail addresses include the governor and members of the Puerto Rico Senate and are ready for cutting and pasting into your mail program. E-MAIL should be sent to:

"Hon. Pedro Rossello" <webmaster at govpr.org> "Hon. Pedro Rossello" <prossello at govpr.org> "Kenneth McClintock" <kmcclintock at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Charlie Rodriguez" <crodriguez at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Roberto Rexach Benitez" <rrexach at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Luz Z. Arce Ferrer" <larce at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Sergio Pen~a Clos" <spena at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Enrique Rodriguez Negron" <erodriguez at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Jorge Santini" <jsantini at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Francisco Gonzalez" <fgonzalez at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Anibal Marrero Perez" <amarrero at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Ramon Luis Rivera" <rrivera at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Victor Marrero Padilla" <vmarrero at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Norma Carranza" <ncarranza at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Carlos Pagan Gonzalez" <cpagan at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Jorge Ramos Comas" <jramos at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Modesto Agosto Alicea" <magosto at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Bruno Ramos Olivera" <bramos at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Jose Melendez Ortiz" <emelendez at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Carmen Luz Berrios" <cberrios at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Luis F. Navas de Leon" <lnavas at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Carlos Davila" <cdavila at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Luisa Lebron" <llebroni at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us> "Roger Iglesias" <riglesias at SENADO.gvmt.pr.us>

>>>> Please E-mail copy of your message to:
cquiros at compuserve.com utier at coqui.net

********************** SAMPLE E-MAIL ***********************

Dear Sir: We wish to express our deepest concern over police violence against Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC) strikers and their supporters. Though we understand your interest in developing Puerto Rico's economy, please be assured that economic competitiveness will not be achieved by forced privatization of public utilities by violent means. On the contrary, increased violence against striking workers could easily have a damaging effect on Puerto Rico's international reputation as well as an adverse effect on economic development and tourism. This will no doubt happen if the public and international opinion is that the Puerto Rican government has officially adopted an openly violent anti-labor position.

We believe that only the full exercise of worker's rights, as well as a truly democratic approach to resolving conflicts can guarantee economic development.

For this reason, we support the demands that are being raised by the Puerto Rican labor movement. We urge you place a moratorium on the sale of the PRTC and heed the call of your people for a popular referendum on this issue.


Your name (and organization if applicable)


For more information, E-mail to: cquiros at compuserve.com

Carlos Quiros Instituto Laboral de Educacion Sindical (Labor Studies Institute) PUERTO RICO

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list