Costa Rica’s public employees get pay raise

June 19, 2009

The government of Costa Rica may be down 17.5 percent in revenues this year and amid a global recession, but it is moving forward with plans to raise salaries of teachers, janitors and security guards by 4.88 percent.

The finance minister signed the pay raise alongside the leaders of 13 unions on Thursday, increasing salaries for “non-professionals” (or those with less than a high school education) by more than ¢8,700 or $15 a month.

For an entry level security guard who makes ¢182,000 ($318 a month), the raise would boost his salary to ¢190,700 ($332) According to numbers provided by ANDE, security guards are typically granted an annual raise of ¢4,000 ($6.99) per month.

The change came – in part – in response to a complaint filed in December of 2008, in which a civil service study of wages found that the salary of “non-professionals” was between 19 percent and 59.6 percent lower than positions in other state institutions.

The raise will take place in two parts, with 2.44 percent applied to wages in September and the remaining 2.44 percent salary increase in January.

“It required a great effort to reach this agreement, which is a considerable (raise) given the country´s economic situation,” said Guillermo Zúñiga, finance minister. “But it is an effort we welcome because we are aware of the importance (of the raise) for non-professional public servants.”

The announcement came just days after Zúñiga released the latest economic indicators for the country, showing a drop of ¢515.8 billion ($902 million) in this year´s revenue of almost ¢3 trillion ($5.15 billion).

He prefaced those numbers by trying to dissipate fear about the country´s financial state.

“These estimates do not take us by surprise,” Zúñiga said. “In fact, they have been in our forecasts. Since last year, we have been discussing these estimates… So much so that at the beginning of the year, we have asked select government institutions to expect a 20 percent cut in budget expenditures…a figure very similar to 17.5 percent reported today.”

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