San Juan – The president of the Authentic Independent Union (UIA), Luis de Jesús Rivera, repudiated on Thursday, the decision of the Fiscal Control Board (JCF) and the government to reduce the vacation leave of public employees for the second time in the quadrennium.
The union leader reacted indignantly to Special Memorandum 40-2020 of the Office of Administration and Transformation of Human Resources of the Government of Puerto Rico that reduces the vacation leave of public employees by half, from 30 to 15 days per year.
“For more than forty years, public employees have enjoyed an annual 30-day vacation license as an important marginal benefit to partially offset low salaries in government. This benefit was taken from us by public employees in 2017 with the approval of Law 26, which reduced the annual vacation leave to only 15 days. After a long lobbying process before the Legislature, the workers were able to pass Law 176-2019, which returned their 30 days of annual vacation to public employees, ”de Jesús Rivera said in a written communication.
However, he said that recently, Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the United States District Court in Puerto Rico agreed to a request from the Fiscal Control Board to annul said law, which has caused the government to approve Special Memorandum 40 -2020 in which the vacation leave is reduced for the second time, in less than four years, from 30 to 15 days per year.
“The Board indicated that restoring vacation days and sick days available to public employees makes the government workforce” less efficient. ” These are unfounded statements and we would like you to present empirical data on your claim that public employees are less efficient if we enjoy more vacation and sick days, ”said Luis de Jesús Rivera, president of the UIA Executive Committee.
“The governments of the day in Puerto Rico must open up and learn from the good of other parts of the world. However, what they do is close to the world to be the closest thing to the United States of America, which is the only developed country that considers paid time off as a luxury and not a right. Australia, Germany, Italy and Spain offer their citizens more than 30 paid days off per year and paid holidays, while under federal law there are no basic labor rights such as vacation or sick leave. There is also no maternity leave under the federal scheme in the United States, ”he said.
He mentioned that there are American companies that offer their employees between 5 and 15 paid days off per year. A study by the US Center for Economic and Policy Research found that about a quarter of private sector workers do not have paid vacations. According to a survey conducted by the website Glassdoor.com, only half of the American worker who was entitled to paid time off enjoyed his fair share. According to the survey, 28% of workers said they were afraid of being left behind at their workplace, while 17% explained that they were afraid of losing their job, the other 19% indicated that they did not take vacations because they wanted to have an advantage over the competition for a job promotion, all based on a culture of fear in the workplace. However, more and more North American companies, regardless of what their jurisdiction contemplates, are betting on expanding their benefits to ensure that their teams have optimal working conditions.
On the other hand, De Jesús Rivera indicated that “In Puerto Rico we cannot allow the Fiscal Control Board and the rulers of this country to impose a culture of fear on us. Labor benefits such as licenses and the Christmas bonus are a form of remuneration that the worker receives, the objective of this benefit is clear: to improve the quality of life of the worker, increase their job satisfaction so that they have a greater motivation at the time get your work done and boost your productivity. One of the great advantages of labor benefits is for both parties, for the government and for the worker, such as employee satisfaction, the image of the government, work-life balance and family and labor peace. “
The President of the UIA Executive Committee pointed out that the Fiscal Control Board, the Executive, the Legislature, and the union movement must sit down to negotiate this controversy over benefits for the good of the workers and people of Puerto Rico. “We workers will not allow more rights to be taken away from us and we will have to intensify our struggle to restore what we have lost,” he concluded.