San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

4% Raise for Public Sector Draws Criticism

Representatives of both the private and public sector are criticizing the government’s 4% salary raise for public workers, announced at year’s end.

Both the National Association of Educators (ANDE) and the Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce criticized the administration of President Oscar Arias for deciding on the raise unilaterally and announcing it during the Christmas holiday, rather than negotiating with workers’ unions as the government usually does.

“We deeply lament this type of unilateral decision,” ANDE President José Antonio Barquero said in a statement this week. “We prove once again that Oscar Arias’ priority isn’t the poor or social programs.”

Chamber of Commerce representative Numa Estrada told the daily La Nación the government “should work with more prudence if what they want is a consensus,” and criticized the lack of a clear salary policy. Estrada also said the 4% increase is not in line with inflation.

Asked about the criticism at the press conference following the President’s weekly Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias said unions tend to worry about salary increases more than other economic factors that have a greater impact on workers’ well-being, such as inflation.With inflation at 9.43% in 2006, down from 14.05% the year before and the lowest rate registered in more than a decade, workers’ salaries have not lost as much purchasing power as in previous years, a trend that will continue this year if the government meets its goal of driving inflation below 9%, he said.


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