Union defends Christmas bonus to reactivate Puerto Rico economy
SAN JUAN – The president of Puerto Rico’s Federación Central de Trabajadores (FCT) union, Local 481, UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers), Andrés Lloret, said that contrary to what the island’s fiscal oversight board chairman, José Carrión, said, paying the Christmas bonus to public employees helps reactivate the economy.
Puerto Rico labor law requires that employers pay a bonus to employees who have worked more than 700 hours from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 of the subsequent calendar year.
Lloret said that because of hurricanes Irma and María, public sector employees would use the bonus to purchase items they need to face the ongoing emergency that a large part of the population continues to experience in the aftermath of September’s powerful back-to-back storms.
He also said that even if used for holiday gifts, the purchases generate economic activity for businesses that have had reduced earnings after the passage of the massive weather events.
“The only imprudence here is that amid all this devastation, both Carrión and [fiscal board Executive Director Natalie] Jaresko, the other members, and advisers under contract with the fiscal control board have not made a single sacrifice in their high salaries and benefits that the people of Puerto Rico have to pay,” the union leader said.
“Carrión has no standing to demand that the Christmas bonus not be given when he pays Natalie Jaresko more than $600,000 and has dozens of juicy contracts with advisers,” Lloret said.
He stressed that local businesses were greatly affected and that if the fiscal control board wanted Puerto Rico to overcome the crisis, it should seek solutions to reactivate the economy. “We have yet to hear a single idea from the fiscal board for the Puerto Rican economy to surface,” Lloret added.
The FCT represents public and private workers in savings and loan cooperatives and dairy company Tres Monjitas , Carmela Foods, the Industrial Commission, Teachers Retirement System, the National Parks Company, the Telecommunications Regulatory Board, Insurance Commissioner’s Office, the Housing Department and Public Housing Administration, among others.