The Institute of Labour Relations (Instituto de Relaciones del Trabajo – IRT), part of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus, was the host of the III International Conference on Exchange on the Economic Crisis and its impacts on the working class which took place from 8 to 11 April.
During the event, attended by members of the Latin American Federation of Workers of Trade, Private Services (Federación de Trabajadores Latinoamericanos del Comercio, Oficinas y Empresas Privadas de Servicios – FETRALCOS), international labour leaders, as well as researchers and teaching staff of the faculty of the IRT, tackled specific issues linked to the Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latin American and international reality such as: trends related to freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; and the elimination of discrimination with respect to employment and occupation, among other human rights.
During the meeting the director of the IRT, Tania García Ramos, posed that “before the intensification of precarious employment in Puerto Rico, it is vital to consider new social policies for a dignified life. These policies should consider that the people receive a decent income for housing, food , transportation etc.”.
On the other hand, the doctor Virgin Cáceres Cruz, explained that « every time this kind of meeting more necessary to learn about the common and different experiences in different countries, in order to promote possible solutions to the problems of migrant workers and particularly women, the unemployed and workers under precarious conditions ».
As part of the conference a number of agreements by FETRALCOS were established, such as: to promote the organization of migrant workers within national organizations, to incorporate contents of awareness and promote the reception within the organizations of migrant workers and in the trade union training. In addition, proposed strategies of approximation of the precarious workers, put into context the role of the youth in these organizations and conceptualize on the new challenges of the movement of workers, among other matters.
On this subject the auxiliary professor, Iyari Ríos González, indicated that « the labour policies have promoted a casualization of work where full-time jobs are reduced, while the part-time work increases. One of the most affected sectors are women. This reality was anticipated in a study published shortly after the approval of the labour-reform of 2017 reform where the IRT and the UPR showed the harmful effects that the reform would have on the workers and their living conditions ».
The peak activity of the day was the keynote speech entitled: « Constitutional, Legal and Human Rights Fundamentals in Labour Relations », which was dictated by the Master Alejandro Torres Rivera, Assistant Professor and visiting professor at the IRT.
For his part, Dr. Edwin Morales-cortes, also Professor of the IRT, said that « the conference is carried out in a climate of uncertainty for thousands of workers and families exposed to a precarious job or a retirement full of shortcomings in the face of the lack of guarantees and the violation of their living conditions. The above, as part of the breach of the State and its institutions; of its legal and moral obligations with the working class and the higher public education as an instrument of mobility and social justice. » He added that « in Puerto Rico it is opted to encourage competition for the sake of an alleged intention to attract businesses and create new jobs (precarious), at the expense of workers without seeking viable remedies to counteract the adverse effects on the quality of life and the well-being of workers and their families. »
During the conference the President of the UPR, Dr. Jorge Haddock, and the Rector of the Río Piedras campus, Dr. Luis Ferrão, offered a welcome to the international delegates from Argentina, Peru and the Dominican Republic. In addition the IRT, was recognized by the Universidad Jaime Bausate y Meza in Peru, by the Rector Dr. Roberto Mejía Alarcón, and by the Executive Committee of the Latin American FETRALCOS on the occasion of the 69th anniversary of its foundation.