Public employees general strike threat is back on table

Public employee union officials will be meeting at Casa Presidencial today, and they will tell central government officials that they have rejected a draft of a proposal that was put together a week ago.

The union leaders met with President Laura Chinchilla then in an effort to head off a proposed general strike.

Public employee union officials now say they are preparing for a general strike.

Presidents of the various unions met Friday to reach this decision. They restated their demand for a 4.16 percent salary hike instead of the across-the-board 5,000-colon increase offered by the president.

They want the president to trash the decree that she issued relating to the 5,000-colon increase.

They also want the president to throw out her proposal for a tax increase because they have said they believe that, despite presidential claims, the increase will hit their employees hard and that the entire package is regressive.

The union leaders also want assurances that the
Chinchilla administration will not seek passage of any new laws that address public employes.

Casa Presidential officials thought they had a deal after they met with union leaders a week ago. The president agreed to consider salary adjustments in the second half of the year but the 5,000-colon increase would stand.

The union leaders in their statement issued through the Asociación de Profesores de Segunda Enseñanza said that the president’s tax plan has gained new life in the Asamblea Legislativa and may come up for an initial vote this month.

A general strike would be an economic disaster for the country and for the Chinchilla administration. And the union leaders may not be able to hold together the rank and file over a mere 5,000-colon issue. Among stipulations in the agreement that was rejected was the pledge that the central government would not deduct time spent protesting from the salaries of public officials.

The teachers appear to be committed most to a general strike. However, all types of police officers also are involved as are telecom workers and other public workers for the executive branch.

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