Agriculture Dept. workers protest nonpayment of meal expenses, mileage
By The Star Staff
A group of Department of Agriculture workers held a demonstration Tuesday to demand payment from the agency for several months of meal allowances and mileage.
According to agronomist Modesto Rodríguez Núñez, the workers have used their private vehicles to carry out their daily work, but the Department of Agriculture has not issued payments for gasoline expenses for months.
Rodríguez Núñez added that for more than 20 years the government entity has only paid 40 cents per mile traveled, which does not compensate for the cost of fuel, insurance, maintenance and depreciation of vehicles.
“We demand that the Secretary of Agriculture pay us the money they owe us and that he evaluate alternatives so that we obtain a fair amount for fuel costs,” Rodríguez Núñez said in a written statement. “We are in such a difficult situation that we don’t even have a way to gas up to go out. Many of my colleagues have not received any reimbursement of expenses so far this year.”
The employees held banners alluding to the money owed and repeated refrains about the need to evaluate the payment of 40 cents per mile.
Agronomist Deliris Rivera Santiago said the agronomists and inspectors of the Market Supervision and Inspection Division are in charge of inspecting the food that arrives on the island.
“This office is responsible for inspecting the quality of different products such as eggs, chicken, fruits, root vegetables and vegetables, so that they reach the consumer’s table safely and in optimal condition,” Rivera Santiago said.
The workers said they will hold more demonstrations to ensure that their demands are addressed as soon as possible.