San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Public Sector Given 4% Salary Increase

THE government of Costa Rica lastweek decreed a salary increase of 4% forthe 157,318 public employees that workhere, the Labor Ministry announced.Labor Minister Fernando Trejossigned off on the increase for the secondsemester of 2005. It will take effectretroactively July 1, once the decree issigned by President Abel Pacheco andpublished in the official government dailyLa Gaceta.Albino Vargas, Secretary General ofthe National Association of Public andPrivate Employees (ANEP), said theincrease, which will benefit more than57,000 pensioned workers as well as currentemployees, was very low in comparisonto the cost of living.“We are infuriated, but not surprised,because we knew the government wouldreact in this manner given the deficientfiscal policy it applies,” Vargas said,adding that the government didn’t negotiatethe increase with the union.Vargas didn’t discard the idea thatpublic sector workers would protest theincrease in the coming days.However, he said last week that nowwas not the time for a protest because ofthe hospital fire that killed 19 people (TT,July 15).Last year, workers halted the countryfor days in protest of what they considereda dismal second-semester salaryincrease, among other things. The protestsresulted in a larger increase (TT, Aug. 27, Sept. 3, 2004).Inflation in Costa Rica during the firstsemester of 2005 was 6.86%.A 7.3% increase for salaries of private-sector workers was approved lastmonth.

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