San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Public workers plan more strikes over salary-hike dispute

Public employees upset over the government’s decision to raise salaries by only ₡5,000 ($10) this year say they will continue protests begun last week.

On Thursday, some 200 members of Costa Rica’s Educational Workers Union demonstrated in front of Casa Presidencial, in southeastern San José’s Zapote district, over the raise proposal, which is the equivalent of ₡166 ($0.33) per day.

Workers are asking for a wage hike equivalent to 4.16 percent of their salaries, based on 2012 inflation rates calculated by the Central Bank.

In November, a government decree reduced unions’ power to negotiate public workers’ salaries by granting the Budget Authority, a government agency, discretionary power to make unilateral salary decisions, the daily La Nación reported. Union members have responded by programming a series of upcoming protests to demand better raises and more negotiating power.

“We’re working on an action plan, (and) everything is set for a strike (to be held) next Wednesday in front of the Labor Ministry at 2 p.m.,” Rerum Novarum Workers Confederation President Rodrigo Aguilar said at the Thursday morning strike. “We want to have a massive and united response so that the government will respect unions and sit down to negotiate.”

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