Public employees say they plan to stage a general strike today

The country’s public employees are poised to go out on strike today, although the percentage that will participate is uncertain.

The so-called general strike is being initiated by the nation’s teachers. The Asociación Nacional de Educadores put a litany of demands on its Web site, including the statement that “the fiscal crisis is the responsbility of the politicians and poor fiscal administration that complacently have permitted evasion and excessive exemptions for the most powerful and rich sectors that voraciously accumulate wealth.”

The teachers organization and other union groups have said that they are being penalized because the central government has decreed a 5,000-colon monthly raise for public employees. That’s about $10. The union members are upset that the amount is not larger and that negotiations were not allowed to continue.

Those who participate today are expected to assemble in front of the Ministerio de Hacienda, the budgetary agency, on Avenida Segunda before 10 a.m. From there they plan to march to Casa Presidencial in Zapote.
The salary protest has not generated the same fervor among public employees as other issues, but police and telecom workers are likely to join in. They are members of unions affiliated with the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados, which is supporting the strike.

The strike also is a challenge to President Laura Chinchilla Miranda. Already, one of her ministers, Mario Zamora Cordero, has warned Fuerza Pública officers not to participate in the strike if they are on duty. He is the security minister.
Lately the central government has declined to pay workers for the time they are on strike. That has limited participation.

For expats with children in public schools, there is uncertainty. If enough teachers participate, schools may not function. Some are considering keeping their children home.

Other expats who have reasons to visit public offices might find them well under staffed.

Workers at the public hospitals have had a series of protests and strikes, so their participation today is uncertain. Naturally strike organizers say they have the full support of most public workers.

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