The governor Wanda Vázquez Garced promised today to analyze the concerns of the union leadership of the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) with the contract awarded to the company LUMA for the operation and maintenance of the distribution and transmission system of the public corporation, and did not rule out the possibility of amending the agreement.
As part of a meeting held this afternoon in Fortaleza with the union leadership, it was also determined that the Executive will coordinate a meeting between the operator and the unions in process to discuss the concerns, especially the future of the nearly 6,000 PREPA employees. "We agreed that we are going to examine that report and we are going to meet next week with the government's legal team to be able to discuss and exchange what we are going to do in analysis" he maintained.
However, Vázquez Garced argued that the government and legal team's position is that workers' rights "are contained" in the agreement. "We are going to examine what they have raised … that contract has already been signed, but there are some non-compliance clauses that we clearly have to examine in accordance with what they have brought," he said.
Fermín Fontánez, executive director of the Authority for Public Private Alliances (APP), recognized that Law 29-2009, which creates Public Private Alliances (AAPP), allows amendments to the contract. However, just as the governor did, she alleged that the agreement reached with LUMA guarantees the rights of workers. "If there is something that we understand has not been properly addressed, it may be considered. But, at this moment we understand that all the acquired rights of employees are protected and that the contract definitely maintains those rights in accordance with Law 120-2018, "he said.
" The contract speaks of rights acquired from employees, but we brought a company that works with unions and recognizes unions ”argued Fontánez when he said that this topic, as well as the possible development of an agreement, would be a topic of conversation during the transition period that estimated in one year.
Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, president of the Union of employees of the Electricity and Irrigation Industry (Utier), maintained that, according to a study carried out, the contract is “null” because it violates various provisions of the laws in force and its public policies. He emphasized that the contract does not clearly include or recognize the collective agreements or the unions that group the workers. "The contract speaks of the rights acquired only and that is also very limited," he pointed out.
"Not only the concerns of the workers that from our point of view are not covered in the contract, but also from the point of view of benefits for the people of Puerto Rico, "said Jaramillo.
On June 22, the Authority for Public Private Alliances (AAPP) announced the selection of LUMA Energy for the operation and maintenance of the distribution and transmission of the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) through a contract valued at about $ 1,500 million after 15 years.
According to the report of the Alliance Committee, the operation and maintenance agreement in accordance with the AAPP LUMA will be in charge of administering contracts, providing billing and collection services, implementing the Remediation Plan to begin the transformation of PREPA, recommending and making capital improvements, representing the PREPA before the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, procure and administer federal funds, and assist PREPA in all processes with the Fiscal Oversight Board (JSF).
Unlike other concessions, PREPA does not receive a compensation or advance of money and neither the debt or the contracted loans associated with the electrical network are settled. PREPA retains title to the asset, and the revenue LUMA collects from the sale of electricity remains in the hands of the public corporation.
Lawyers for unions that shelter active and retired employees of the corporation, Rolando Emmanuelli and Jessica Méndez, argued in a written communication that the contract is void because it violates various provisions of the laws in force and its public policies, according to an investigation and legal opinion that they carried out. They argued that the agreement does not recognize the employer-employee contractual obligations and that it turns the island's electricity system into a private monopoly.
“It is a leonine contract, since its clauses and conditions only benefit Luma Energy and its parent companies. Therefore, it is a null contract for contradicting the law and public order. The contract also does not comply with the specific mandate of Law 120-2018, by not recognizing the collective agreements in force and, therefore, it is illegal and unconstitutional, "said the graduates.