Banana workers from a Del Monte subsidiary have been on strike for 20 days, with more than 600 workers participating, making the walkout the biggest labor protest in the country thus far this year.
This makes it one of the largest peaceful protest for banana workers in more than 30 years, said José María Villalta Florez Estrada, representative from the political party Frente Amplio, during a press conference Monday at the legislature.
Because there are more than 90 percent of the banana company Bandeco’s workforce in the Sixaola area on strike, a court can’t declare it illegal, he said. The strike was a result from the company lowering worker wages and a refusal to pay overtime, said Luis Angel Serrano, president of Sindicato de Trabajadores de Plantaciones Agricolas. He added that the company also refused to negotiate with the union.
Banana company officials could not be reached Monday afternoon.
The Ministerio de Trabajo has not intervened. Officials have shown no efforts into putting a stop to these labor violations, to what he referred to them as “washing their hands” from the problem, Villalta said.
“It seems as though in this country foreign investment is valued more than a Costa Rican,” said Serrano.
Sixty-three percent of the workers are from the Costa Rican native population, followed by Panamanian immigrant workers.
The union is supported by Villalta and Carmen María Muñoz Quesada and Claudio Enrique Monge Pereira, both lawmakers from the political party Acción Ciudadana.