San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Union strike blocks San José streets

Unhappy with a recent salary hike and an upcoming tax debate in congress, thousands of workers protested Thursday, blocking the street in front of the Legislative Assembly in the center of the capital and causing traffic jams across the city.

The strike was organized by the General Workers Federation, National Association of Public and Private Employees (ANEP), Rerum Novarum Workers Confederation and the High School Teachers Association.

Protesters marched peacefully and were accompanied by more than 200 police officers.

The government’s most recent salary hike called for a 2.33 percent increase in wages for public workers and a 2.63 percent increase for private-sector employees, an amount that striking workers said is too low to compete with the cost of living.

A tax reform bill that lawmakers will debate in upcoming weeks is equally unpopular. The bill would increase the cost of several goods and services by raising taxes.

“The protest was a success and legislators are aware that workers from all occupations responded. Lawmakers must pay attention to those who are fighting policies that make workers pay for an economic crisis they did not create,” said José María Villalta, a lawmaker from Broad Front party. 

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