Approximately 70 workers of First Citizens Bank protested outside the company’s Aranguez South Essential services branch this morning.
According to the union's representative, the protest is because of parking, where employees have been asked to pay $225 monthly to use the car park, a fee employees said they cannot afford.
Approximately 500 workers were recently moved to the new location and Janelle John, of BIGWU, said just getting to the location is a financial burden for some.
“We already don’t get enough salary, we are currently in negotiations,” John said.
John said the union reached out to the bank's CEO this morning to ask for parking for the staff until they meet to discuss the issue, however, their request was denied.
“Her response was no, so what is the staff to do?” John asked.
John said First Citizens nine-month profit is $815 million before tax and managers are allowed to park free.
She said the workers who are being asked to pay for parking are the real foot soldiers and backbone of the company.
“Basically you’re saying to the staff to hell with you all,” John said.
John said workers just cannot afford the parking fee as they may need their money to pay other bills, something the bank did not take into consideration.
“The workers spoke about loans, children to go to school, it’s just hard for them to pay,” John said.
In the background during the protest, workers were heard chanting and asking: “Why workers have to pay for parking.”
While parking is at the forefront of issues faced by the Aranguez South Essential services branch workers say that is not their only concern.
John said the branch is located next to a mangrove and there is no lighting, which increases the risk of robbery and rape for employees.
Prison Officers Association president Ceron Richards said he stands with workers of First Citizens and BIGWU. He said the workers would have been conditioned to free parking and suddenly implementing a fee is unfair.