The San Juan Daily Star
Public employees demand salary justice
By The Star Staff
Dozens of public workers marched on Thursday to La Fortaleza to demand a salary increase and better benefits.
“We have returned to the gates of La Fortaleza to demand from the governor better employment conditions for these workers who have gone more than a decade without a salary increase,” said Gerson Guzmán López, president of the General Workers Union (UGT by its Spanish initials), the union representing the public employees.. “Last August 30, we sent a letter to the governor’s labor adviser with a concrete proposal to bring justice to these employees. Still, to date, we have not received a reply.”
Guzmán López said the proposal presented to La Fortaleza is to replicate for public employees of various agencies the bonus that will soon be given to workers in the public health sector.
“We present this alternative that would replicate the same [bonus] that will be granted to public health personnel since these colleagues have also worked providing direct service to citizens during the pandemic and should also be rewarded,” he said. “The amount of money that is being requested is modest; we believe that it is modest in comparison to what has been granted to other sectors.”
The union leader insisted on the need to recognize the work done by public employees of the public agencies and corporations who were represented at the protest and to give them labor justice.
“We want the governor to make good on his word. He talks about the importance of public servants in their work for the citizens’ benefit. For it is these public servants who, day by day, give their best so that the country continues to function,” Gerson Guzmán López said. “It is these public servants who today demand better conditions and salary justice, that their work be recognized, but also that they be rewarded for it.”
Recently, the UGT signed a collective bargaining agreement with Atlantis Health to grant wage increases and better employment conditions to 248 healthcare workers.
“The negotiation that has culminated between the UGT and Atlantis Healthcare Group, which provides dialysis services in Puerto Rico, was developed in an atmosphere of respect and appreciation for the work done by workers. The achievements and changes achieved will result in a certain improvement in the working and living conditions of the personnel and contribute to the recruitment and retention of the work teams that work in the company,” Guzmán López said. “We consider this to be a solid agreement for difficult times. Once again, it proves that union organizing and collective bargaining contribute significantly to workers’ welfare and corporate progress.”
Among the agreements reached by the union, which will benefit the employees of the 11 units in Aguadilla, Guaynabo, Isabela, San Germán, Ponce, San Sebastián, Lares, Fajardo, Manatí, Caguas and Toa Baja, is that the workers will receive a salary increase in each of the three years of the collective bargaining agreement.