Rising power rates threaten thousands of restaurant jobs

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Mérida, Yucatán — If the CFE continues to raise electric rates, restaurant owners say they will be forced to shed 6,000 jobs in Yucatán.

Faced with electric rates increasing up to 300 percent, the National Chamber of the Restaurant Industry and Seasoned Food (Canirac) said layoffs and closings could ramp up at the end of the year.

Two restaurants have already been shuttered because of pressures from the CFE, the power utility, said Canirac’s chief, Alejandra Pacheco Montero. He pointed out that the restaurant industry in Yucatán represents some 60,000 jobs, and 10 percent of those positions are at immediate risk, he said at a press conference. By the end of next year, another 4,000 positions are in peril, he said.

The business leader met with state legislators from the National Action Party (PAN) and Morena before addressing reporters on Tuesday.

He insisted that the sector is at risk of bankruptcy due to constant increases in the price of electric power rates, which is why they called on the whole society to join the protest of the blackout on November 13.

Many restaurants in the city of Mérida and the interior of the state are on the verge of bankruptcy trying to keep up with power bills, said Pacheco Montero.

“Every day, members come to say that they will not hold another month and they will close, others have left the family business to look for another job that pays for the payroll … it’s a shame,” he complained.

Pacheco Montero said that employers will have to resort to massive layoffs if authorities do not solve the problem.

Business owners have complained for years that they are being overcharged, while government official vow they will negotiate with the utility. Businesses are charged more than residences under a complicated billing formula, and power rates in Yucatán tend to be higher than in other states.

“We are organizing ourselves, we know that it will not be a direct solution but we want society to realize that not only is it a problem for entrepreneurs, it affects us all, because it affects prices and if we do not want to close our businesses we will have to fire personnel, “he said.

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