San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Doctors union will continue nationwide strike

The National Medical Union will continue its nationwide strike Thursday after negotiations with the the Social Security System (Caja) failed to lead to an agreement.

The organization of some 5,000 private and public doctors joined Tuesday Caja anesthesiologists who have been on strike for nearly two weeks, protesting alleged unsanitary and unsafe working conditions and a lack of vacation time. The demands of the strike are for the Health Ministry to recall an order that could result in criminal chargers for the strikers, to rehire two fired anesthesiologists and to reduce the role in the negotiations of Caja Executive President Ileana Balmaceda and Zenith Rojas, the Caja’s medical director.

Balmaceda and Rojas were not involved directly in the negotiations.

A labor court in San José ruled the 12-day anesthesiologist strike illegal on Nov. 23, and doctors could be facing penalties and jail time. The Prosecutor’s Office had charged anesthesiologists from Hospital San Juan de Dios, in San José, with disobeying an official Health Ministry order to return to work.

The number of medical professionals joining the strike have been sketchy with the government and the union giving drastically different figures. The ongoing strike by the doctors has postponed more than 3,500 appointments, including more than 200 surgeries.

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