San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

President Chinchilla and union leaders agree to maintain ₡5,000 raise

After a six-hour meeting Monday, President Laura Chinchilla and union leaders agreed not to vary a ₡5,000 ($10) salary raise for public employees that was set by a recent decree, because “the government has no money to pay more than that,” Chinchilla said.

Union leaders arrived at 2 p.m. at Casa Presidencial, in the southeastern San José district of Zapote, threatening that if Chinchilla showed no flexibility in talks, they would leave negotiations and call for another public-employee strike and street demonstrations.

Among the agreements, Chinchilla promised to block a new Public Employment bill from being discussed at the Legislative Assembly, and to refrain from cutting salary bonuses.

Also there will be no pay cuts for workers who participated in last Wednesday’s strike.As for a fiscal reform plan, Chinchilla said the issue will be thoroughly analyzed, and she agreed to study the unions’ recommendations.

On the salary increase, the president pledged to immediately discuss the methodology used to define the increase in public-sector salaries for the second half of this year.

One option could be to proceed according to a 2007 agreement, which requires calculating inflation to determine wage increases. However, as part of the discussion, a new formula may also be discussed.

Monday’s meeting ended with the drafting of a document that union leaders will present to union members, and both parts will meet again March 5.

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