Trucker strike starts at 6:00 a.m. in spite of rejection by sectors
Businessmen ask government to guarantee flow of goods and put an end to Fenatrado monopoly
SANTO DOMINGO. The National Federation of Dominican Transportation (Fenatrado) reaffirmed its call for a 48 hour national strike, beginning at 6:00 a.m. today and ending on Thursday at the same hour. The strike is part of a demand for the government to pay RD$300,000,000 that it owes for services rendered.
"The strike is on (today) no matter what," insisted Blas Peralta, the Fenatrado president. Fenatrado is the organization that controls freight transportation all over the national territory.
According to what he said, the work stoppage will affect some 5,000 units, including those that provide service in ports and that carry merchandise to Haiti.
"We thought that the government was going to call us, I was in my office until four o'clock in the afternoon and they did not call us," he said.
The pressure by Fenatrado began last April, when they announced the strike. The situation has caused losses since the contract for transporting the pouches filled with election supplies-about RD$7.0 million-was cancelled after that announcement.
According to calculations by the vice-president of the Industrial Association of the Dominican Republic (AIRD), Circe Almanzar, the paralization of freight transportation could produce losses to the country for some RD$800,000,000 per day, just in transportation from ports and customs. This is without counting individual losses that the exporters could have is they do not manage to get their merchandise to the ports on time.
"This is a very large sum, since we are talking about RD$1,600,000,000 for two lost days, this is a big loss for the country," said Almanzar.
Minister of Labor, Francisco Dominguez Brito, said yesterday that the strike "is illegal, inadmissible and foolish," first because it does not comply with what is established in the law and the Constitution and second because of the process (the elections) which the country is going through now.
Businessmen complain; they call for freeing up transportation
The principal business groups of the country rejected the strike by Fenetrado due to the negative consequences that it will produce for the national economy, and for the election period that the country is living with.
The Industrial Association of the Dominican Republic (AIRD) rejected the call to strike because they consider it to be a serious threat to the political and social stability which is only made possible "by the existence of a monopoly imposed by force by the syndicate we referred to."
In the face of the coming strike of freight hauling, the American Chamber of Commerce in the Dominican Republic (Amcham) asked the authorities to guarantee the flow of goods throughout the country, a petition that implies taking measures so that the units which haul freight but are not a part of Fenatrado, can work normally.
"The Chamber defends the respect for the state of law and judicial security. Because of this, we feel that the right way to resolve conflicts should be through dialogue and in case it is necessary, through the courts, but not by actions that could alter the normal situation in which the business, institutional and citizen activities should be conducted," argued the Amcham in a press release.
The strike was also rejected by the Haina and South Region Industrial Association, which questioned why a situation that has nothing to do with the private sector is taken as a pretext to block freight movement that is inherent to productive activities.
Regarding all this, the president of the AIRD, Ligia Bonetti de Valiente, insisted on the need for the government to intervene in a radical fashion in this affair.
For some time the business and industrial leaders have called for the government to free up freight transportation, which is monopolized by Fenatrado which does not permit merchandise to move in trucks that are not members of the syndicate.
Bonetti de Valiente recognized the right of Fenatrado to demand their payment, but she questioned why they want to affect third parties that have no connection with the alleged debt.
De Diario Libre