San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
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Costa Rican lawmakers go to battle against President Solís’ reversal of labor reform veto

A group of 21 lawmakers from five parties on Friday morning filed a complaint with the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, challenging the constitutionality of President Luis Guillermo Solís’ decision to lift a veto on a bill proposing reforms to the country’s Labor Procedures Law.

Solís on Dec. 12 ordered the reversal of the veto by former president Laura Chinchilla in 2012, arguing that the period for its discussion and approval by the Legislative Assembly was about to expire.

Lawmakers from the previous legislature passed the bill in September 2013, but Chinchilla in October refrained from signing it into law. She then vetoed it, saying the bill “would create a loophole for legalizing strikes in essential services without restraint, and that would be unconstitutional.”

Interpretations of the bill describe essential services as public health care, public security and transportation.

The latest complaint by lawmakers was signed by members of the National Liberation Party, the Social Christian Unity Party, the Libertarian Movement Party, the National Restoration Party and the Christian Democratic Alliance.

“There is a strong conflict of jurisdiction here. The bill was under review by the Legislative Assembly and therefore its discussion corresponded to lawmakers. President Solís decided to lift the veto when we were in the middle of a legislative process,” the National Restoration Party’s Fabricio Alvarado said at a press conference on Friday.

Solís on Thursday signed an executive decree reiterating his administration’s pledge to maintain essential services and establish protocols to guarantee that these and other public services are not interrupted by labor disputes.

The Christian Democratic Alliance’s Mario Redondo said the president’s decree makes no sense, and he called it a “legal platypus.”

“President Solís’ action constitutes an interference by the executive branch of the legislative branch. He’s in a huge mess and now he doesn’t know how to get out of it,” Redondo said.

The National Liberation Party’s top legislator, Juan Luis Jiménez, confirmed that all 18 members of his party supported the Sala IV complaint.

Solís’ decision has been widely criticized by business groups and private-sector chambers, which say the reform in its current drafting would hurt the country’s competitiveness and affect foreign investment by creating the possibility of strikes in the private sector. The bill also would forbid employers from sanctioning striking workers, they argue.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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