Governor: Judicial branch salary increase demands must be filed as bills in Legislature
By The Star Staff
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Thursday passed the hot-button issue of demands for a salary increase for judicial branch employees over to the Legislature.
“When we look at all the public employees of the executive branch, and we include teachers, firefighters, correctional officers, paramedics, nurses, we include everyone, and about 70% of public servants have received salary increases in this administration,” the governor said in response to questions from the press. “All public servants have received bonuses in this administration, largely because of the efforts we have made in using the federal funds we have available.”
“The judicial branch has a demand that has to be addressed by the legislative branch. They have to submit a bill, if they have not submitted one, to the legislative branch,” Pierluisi added. “They have to claim the necessary budget increase to update their remuneration plan. They have to do it; I endorse it. For the judges, they have to resort to the legislative branch to have an adjustment made in their pay.”
The governor did not rule out taking other measures to increase the salaries of public employees.
“I support that and recognize that not all public servants have received salary increases, but the vast majority have,” he said. “In the future I do not rule out taking additional measures to continue improving pay in the public service.”
Judicial branch employees announced a demonstration for Friday at 9 a.m. on the premises of the island Supreme Court in San Juan, in protest of the lack of a fair wage increase for workers in the sector.
“The judiciary is one of the fundamental pillars of our democratic system and its employees are essential for its proper functioning,” said Amircal Gerena, a spokesman for the employees and a sheriff assigned to the Utuado Judicial Region. “However, the workers have been facing a significant deterioration in our working conditions, especially in terms of our salary.”
He added that the employees are calling for the understanding and solidarity of citizens, since the struggle for a fair wage benefits workers in the sector and also translates into more efficient and equitable justice for all.
In recent days, Senate Bill 1106 was announced, which if approved would give a substantial salary increase to judges, something that has generated considerable displeasure among judiciary employees.
“From the Steering Committee of employees we express our concern about this situation, since we consider that this salary increase does not correspond to the economic reality of the country and is disproportionate compared to the paltry salaries received by the rest of the workers of the [judiciary],” Gerena said. “We are concerned that this increase could generate an imbalance in the salary structure of the agency, as well as potentially affect the budget allocated to other important areas of this institution.”