San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ex-employees file suits against Liberia-based Sábila Industrial

A group of more than 50 employees from defunct Sábila Industrial S.A, the U.S. company that suddenly closed its operations late last month in Costa Rica´s northwestern Guanacaste province and left their workforce without any compensation, filed four separate lawsuits at the Civil and Labor Court in Liberia.

Judicial Branch spokeswoman Andrea Maríacute confirmed Wednesday afternoon that 56 employees had joined the lawsuits over the last two weeks.

Labor Vice Minister Eugenio Solano was contacted early last week by the legal representatives of Sábila, an aloe processing company, and said the business attributed its closing to the financial crisis.

In addition, Solano confirmed the managers of the Liberia plant fled the country last week.

In the absence of management, Solano arranged a meeting with the company’s lawyer late last week in order to negotiate the employee´s compensations.

As of Wednesday afternoon, despite repeated attempts The Tico Times could not reach the negotiators to confirm the details of this meeting.

Sábila Industrial S.A., a subsidiary of U.S. biopharmaceutical company DelSite Inc., shut its doors late on Jan. 29, leaving about 143 employees out of work, without warning.

Two weeks ago, the Labor Court froze close to ¢2 million (about $3,667) in company assets, including bank accounts and seized plant machinery and computer equipment (see story).

A former employee said she was on vacation when she received the news that the company was closing down.

“On Feb. 2, I picked up my (dismissal) letter,” said the employee, who would not disclose her name for fear of affecting future job prospects. “My boss didn´t have anything to say since he has lost his job as well.”

The employee, who worked for Sábila for a little more than four years, said she has been looking for work primarily in industrial companies throughout the region with no luck.

In addition, the former Sábila worker, who held a supervisory position at the plant, said she has kept in touch with many employees who were laid off from Sábila and said that most of them, who are single mothers, have not been able to find other jobs.

See the Feb. 20 print or digital edition of The Tico Times for more on this story.

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