Monday, December 16, 2019

Family Department Accused of “Assaulting” its Employees

By on December 19, 2016

With a holiday “asalto” (an impromptu arrival with holiday music) to represent what has been deemed as an “assault” to workers’ pockets, a group of union workers from the Family Department (FD) demanded the agency’s secretary, Idalia Colón Rondón, to pay public workers their full Christmas bonuses, as previously agreed upon by both parties in 2014.

The Monday morning protest, organized by the United Public Servers group (SPU by its Spanish acronym), reached the main entrance of the San Juan State Department, where the FD officials  were scheduled to testify during the government transition hearings.

SPU members protest against the Family Department for reducing their Christmas bonuses. (Agustín Criollo/AP)

SPU members protest against the Family Department for reducing their Christmas bonuses. (Agustín Criollo/AP)

“We are here today denouncing the outrage they have done with FD workers. In an unprecedented action, the agency took 20% from its employees’ Christmas bonus. Despite this, we fulfilled our part of the agreement that ties the Christmas bonus to the agency’s energy savings and achieved a cumulative energy savings of 19%,” said SPU President Annette González.

The public worker assured it was an “unjust and arbitrary” act on behalf of the FD, and urged Colón Rondón to assume responsibility and accept the alleged debt she has with the employees.

The union also explained that there is an agreement between unions and Fortaleza that establishes that the government will pay the Christmas bonus as negotiated, as long as there is a 10% reduction in the agency’s electric energy savings. If only a 5% savings was achieved, the quantity would have been adjusted proportionally. If it had been less than 5%, workers would receive the $600 established in Act 66. The base year to establish the comparison is fiscal year 2013-14, so the saving is cumulative.

Annette González, SPU President. (Agustín Criollo/AP)

Annette González, SPU President. (Agustín Criollo/AP)

“In August, the FD Energy Saving Committee certified us that it reached 19% in energy savings. In fact, both parts celebrated that we achieved our goal. And it wasn’t until Monday, Dec. 5 that they let us know their change of posture through a release. Now they understand the 10% saving is annual and not cumulative, which is why according to that interpretation we didn’t reach the 10% for this fiscal year. That wasn’t what we negotiated,” stated the union leader.

González indicated that under that interpretation, each agency would have had to fulfill 10% for 2015, 20% for 2016 and 30% for 2017, which she claims wasn’t stipulated in the agreement.

María Santiago, another union leader, deemed the action a ruse against the public entity’s working class.

“This unilateral and arbitrary action on behalf of the employer, after months of arduous labor and collaboration where there was an agreement, is a harsh blow to our enrollment. We fulfilled our part, we won’t accept apples for oranges. We are asking here what corresponds to us, not a gift. We have worked for this, we have produced savings to the public treasury and now they want to fool us,” insisted Santiago.

The group assured that they will continue demanding the debt payment and didn’t discard taking the matter to court.

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