The Puerto Rico Oversight Board cast doubt Friday on a temporary deal between the truckers and the interim governor which is pausing the truckers’ strike.
Around 9:30 p.m. Thursday Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announced the temporary deal in two tweets. The deal was with the striking truckers’ union, Frente Amplio de Camioneros. Pierluisi was off the island and the deal was negotiated by Interim Governor Omar Marrero.
According to the El Nuevo Día news web site, the deal would provide the truckers with a 35% rate increase. It was unclear if the new rate increase would be just for the spot rate or would also serve as a minimum for privately negotiated trucker contracts.
Late on Friday morning Board Spokesman Matthias Rieker said, “What I read in the media is inconsistent with the fiscal plan.”
Rieker said the board had not yet received the written deal the local government had signed with the union and thus it did not fully understand what was in it. When the board has read the deal, it will come out with a formal position on it.
Rieker said the board is waiting for an economic impact statement from the government body that regulates the trucking industry and had passed the rate increase.
The union’s lawyer said Thursday night the truckers would immediately return to work, according to El Nuevo Día. He also said that his union’s truckers would return to strike if the board sued to undo the deal.
On Thursday evening Pierluisi tweeted, “The government of Puerto Rico, together with the Transportation Department, reached an agreement to reestablish the distribution chain and bring peace to our island.” He continued, “We will begin an immediate process to achieve a new regulation that reflects the needs of all sectors and safeguards the well-being of our people. We have concentrated on giving PR certainty by addressing this situation promptly and prudently.”
On Friday morning Inteligencía Economica President Gustavo Veléz tweeted, “The ‘agreement’ is not an agreement without the endorsement of the Fiscal Board. I see little transparency in the handling of a very serious and important matter.”
Inteligencía Economica is a Puerto Rico business and economic consultant.
Frente Amplio de Camioneros started the strike Wednesday morning. The union complained that the spot rate minimum had not been raised since 2005. The spot rate covers trucker pick-ups of containers at ports and their delivery to one or more entities, when the truckers do not have individually negotiated contracts with those they are delivering the goods for.
While Frente is one of two trucker unions on the island, the strike was widely observed. Without trucks providing fuel deliviries, hundreds of gas stations reportedly sold out of gasoline Thursday.