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  HOME | Caribbean

Puerto Rico Fiscal Crisis Leaves Thousands of Schoolchildren Stranded

SAN JUAN – Workers at around a dozen school transportation companies in Puerto Rico on Tuesday staged a strike that left thousands of children with no way to get to school.

The transport workers are demanding that the government pay them $8 million in back salaries they say it owes them.

Early Tuesday morning, about 50 school bus drivers showed up with their buses in front of one of the Education Department’s central offices to demand that the agency pay them what they say they are owed.

According to the figures provided by the drivers to EFE, the workers are owed up to five months of back pay, which ranges between $2,000 and $5,000 per month.

Among the drivers was Wilfredo Torres, who has 40 years of experience in the job.

“The Education Department says that it doesn’t owe us the payments, they already settled them, but they haven’t settled anything at all,” said Torres, who told EFE on Tuesday that every day he gets up at 4 a.m. to start his job.

Torres is one of the more than 700 transport workers ferrying about 10,000 children and teens who each day use Puerto Rico’s public school bus service.

The island finds itself in a deep economic crisis, with no way to pay off its $72 billion public debt and continue providing many essential public services.

The strike was staged by several school transport companies in the San Juan metropolitan area, although on the rest of the island school bus service was generally operating normally, despite delays in salary payments in many other municipalities.

 

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