San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Doctors back 12-day strike by interns


The Social Security System (Caja) is pleading with the country’s resident doctors to put an end to a 12-day strike that has brought the country’s medical system to a near standstill.
Yesterday, the striking residents were joined by doctors, who stopped working between 7 and 11 a.m. in a show of solidarity.
Rosa Climent, medical director of the Caja, claimed the strike “had no purpose” because the institution has already given concessions and remains willing to negotiate.
The disagreement centers on a proposed practice to guarantee that medical residents carry out their Caja assignments. As a response to the problem of a lack of specialists in rural clinics, the Caja wants to require that resident doctors pay a deposit of ¢32 million (about $61,000), which would be forfeited if they refuse to work where the Caja assigns them.
Residents have objected, saying they shouldn’t have to pay at the outset of a job, especially as the Caja isn’t paying for their schooling to begin with.
“No worker in this country takes on a debt to work,” said Ana Belén, a resident who spoke to The Tico Times from the doctor’s union headquarters. “And that is what is happening with us here. We are incurring a debt with the Caja.”
On Tuesday, the Caja revised its proposal and eliminated the up-front fine, but said if residents refused to work in places assigned to them by the Caja, they would receive a 6 percent pay cut.
After the second day of the strike, the Caja requested that the Labor Tribunal force resident doctors to suspend the strike, but the tribunal has yet to take action.

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