San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Country’s Doctors Support 12-Day Residents Strike

The Social Security System (Caja) is pleading with the country’s doctors-in-residence to put an end to a 12-day strike that is strangling the country’s medical system.

Yesterday, the striking residents were joined by doctors, who stopped working between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. in a show of solidarity.

Rosa Climent, medical director of the Caja, dismissed the strike as “having 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 assignment. As response to the problem of a lack of specialists in rural clinics, the Caja wants to require that resident doctors pay a deposit ¢32 million ($61,000) if they refuse to complete their residency.

Residents have objected, saying that they shouldn’t have to pay at the outset of a job, especially since 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 Guevara, a resident who spoke to The Tico Times from the medical 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 upfront fine, but said if residents refused to work in places assigned to them by the Caja, they’d take a 6 percent pay cut.

After the second day of the strike, the Caja requested the labor courts to force doctors-in-residence to suspend the strike, but the labor court has yet to take action.

–Chrissie Long

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