San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Government Begins Process to Fire Controllers

The Technical Council of the CivilAviation Authority (CTAC) on Wednesdaynight began the process to fire the 115 airtraffic controllers who have been on strikesince June 26, the daily La Nación reported.The measures were announced twoweeks after courts in Alajuela, Liberia andSan José declared the strike illegal.Alvaro Escalante, coordinator of thetechnical commission appointed by CTACto study the case, said the controllers broke offdialogue with the government onTuesday. The meeting, he said, was thegovernment’s last attempt at resolving thesalary dispute that led the controllers to goon strike.During the meeting, CTAC offered toraise controllers salaries by between¢25,000 ($57) and ¢39,000 ($89) a month,depending on each worker’s rank, as wellas the 4.275% raise the government failedto apply between 1994 and 2000.In the coming days, CTAC will beginissuing formal notifications of firing to thecontrollers, Escalante said.Leonardo Guillén, spokesman for thecontrollers, said CTAC’s announcement“did catch me by surprise.”The risk of being fired was always presentwhen the controllers agreed to strike,he said.The striking controllers are demandingsalaries 35% above certain Civil AviationInspectors who currently earn more thanthe controllers-something they claim thegovernment promised them in 1994.Transport Minister Javier Chaves saidthe controllers’ salaries were raised to 30%above the inspectors’ in 1994, and that theyare now demanding salaries greater thannew categories added to Civil Aviation in2000 – an increase that would more thandouble the controllers’ current salaries. Hesaid this is not negotiable (TT, July 2).

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