Photo: Puerto Rico
Puerto Rican teachers are deciding whether to go on strike when classes resume next month to protest a pension overhaul signed into law on Tuesday by Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla.
Finally on Monday night the Senate passed the bill it had received from the House of Representatives to reform a pension fund that has an actuarial deficit of $10.25 billion.
The measure enacted Tuesday increases the employee contribution from 9 percent to 10 percent and establishes a minimum retirement age of 62 for newly hired teachers.
Current employees with 30 years service can retire at 55 and receive at least $1,625 a month.
Puerto Rico’s teachers are not part of the U.S. Social Security system.
The teachers, who mounted unruly protests inside the Capitol last week as members of the Puerto Rican lower house considered the proposal, now consider going on strike starting Jan. 9.
Emilio Torres, of the Broad Front for the Defense of the Teachers’ Retirement System, said that all organizations in the coalition are preparing for the walkout.
“All the teachers want to go on strike to make themselves heard. That is what we have seen throughout this process and that is what we will do in January,” he said in a statement to the press.
Nonetheless, Garcia Padilla thanked the “responsible and courageous (lawmakers) who did their duty” and voted in favor of this reform, since, the communique said, “it is a transcendental step for the economic stability of the country and the well-being of thousands of public servants.”
The reform was demanded by the ratings agencies, who had threatened to downgrade Puerto Rican government bonds to junk status.