Public employee unions have designated Feb. 15 as the day for a general strike to protest what they said is an insulting pay hike decreed by the central government. The day is a Wednesday.
At the same time motorcycle organizations are unhappy with an aspect of the proposed traffic law and may join the strike.
Expats can figure on government offices being understaffed if the protest takes place. That includes municipal offices, workers for utilities and even some police. Schools, too, will be affected.
When negotiations collapsed with public employee representatives, the central government under President Laura Chinchilla decreed a 5,000 colon raise, about $10. The raise is the same for every job category.
The Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social said that public employee representatives walked out of negotiations again Tuesday when it became clear that the government was sticking to the 5,000-colon increase. The wage increase will cost 25 billion colons that will have to be financed with debt, said a release from the ministry. The negotiations are being handled by the Comisión Negociadora de Salarios del Sector Publico.
That amount is nearly $50 million.
Sandra Piszk, the minister, reiterated the government’s desire to continue negotiations.
The Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados said it was following the lead of teachers, represented by the Asociación Nacional de Educadores, in calling the strike.
The unions held a protest last week, but the turnout was only a few hundred persons. In a statement Tuesday the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos said that the government was incorrect when it said there was no money for larger raises.
The union group said that autonomous institutions have a lot of money and that by cracking down on evasion, the government could come up with three times what President Chinchilla hopes to raise with her new tax plan.