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‘Never Again,’ Says Culebra’s R.D. Medical To $25,000 Loss, Labor Interruption, And Production Delay During Union Strike

Ports Authority Celebrates End Of Strike And Moody’s Credit Re-Evaluation


August 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Culebra’s single manufacturing company may have lost as much as $25,000 during last week’s interruption of ferry service by the Brotherhood of Ports Authority employees.

R.D. Medical President Rafael Diaz told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS the company was caught unaware Tuesday evening when it heard about the strike, which was organized by union members responsible for the Culebra-Fajardo ferries. The strike was initially supposed to last 24 hours but later was extended to 72.

"We usually make up to four trips to and from Culebra, exchanging raw material and finished products," said Diaz, who depends on the Culebra plant’s production for the majority of its own production. "Logistics became a nightmare when we ran out of raw material on Thursday and had to suspend the plant’s manufacturing operation Friday. Approximately 70 employees were affected by the shutdown."

In addition, Diaz had to open R.D. Medical’s warehouse facility in Las Piedras on Friday at 2 a.m. to receive finished products that were shipped in through Ceiba’s Roosevelt Roads. By then, the company was already approximately 20% behind in its production and distribution, causing some shipments to U.S. mainland clients to be delayed.

"The transportation logistics to Culebra are becoming more difficult every day," said Diaz. "We need to find a way to eliminate obstacles, particularly the threat of another labor conflict such as last week’s. If not, the company will be forced to close production, which would be counterproductive not only because of the loss of jobs on Culebra but also for the company, which would lose an excellent facility."

Double celebration for Ports Authority

"We were confident that once we sat down to discuss our differences, the labor union would end the strike," said Ports Authority Executive Director Miguel Soto. "We agreed to work on the salary-classification and retribution study for the union and formed committees to discuss labor disputes to avoid future ferry interruptions. By Monday, all Ports Authority personnel and administrative offices should be operating regularly."

Another reason for the Ports Authority celebration was that Moody’s Investor Services increased its credit classification to Ba3 from Ba2 with a stable perspective. Government Development Bank of Puerto Rico President Antonio Faria made the announcement on Friday. The Ports Authority’s debt is classified A- by Standard & Poor’s, the other agency that evaluates the island’s credit and bond emissions.

"Since 1992, the Ports Authority hadn’t been able to participate in the bonds market," said Soto. "Moody’s re-evaluated our financial situation, and now we will be able to issue up to $92 million in bonds for infrastructure improvements. This is a reflection of Moody’s confidence in the Ports Authority’s capacity to maintain stable finances considering the demand on the agency’s aviation, cargo, and cruise-ship industries."

Ports Authority received end-of-strike and investment news the same day.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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