Refinery union threatens strike to protect salaries

Unionized employees at the national petroleum monopoly say that they are going on strike today because they fear cuts in their salaries.

The union said that a media campaign was being waged against unions by a group with economic power that dreams of a single salary of hunger for all the Costa Rican workers.

The workers at the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo S.A. are the newest group of public employees to be upset by proposals to eliminate certain bonuses from worker salaries. The Contraloría de la República, the budget watchdog, has been leading the campaign, and the central government supports the idea.

Nearly every agency in the central government has its own union that negotiates salaries separately. The base salary frequently is eclipsed by bonuses and special payments, although the refinery union rejects the idea that some workers get three times their state pay that way.

The controversial concept is the salario unico, which officials see as a partial solution to the nation’s fiscal deficit. Central government officials call the current trend in public employee salaries unsustainable. The unions, of course, respond that the government is trying to solve the deficit by taking money from workers.

For expats, the call for a strike might mean a quick trip to the service station to fill up the tanks of the family vehicles before striking gasoline delivery drivers have an impact on supply. That is if they can maneuver through striking unlicensed taxi drivers who also are unhappy about the government not resolving their status. They promise surprise blockades. Unlicensed taxi drivers and licensed drivers have been fighting for years over who has the right to pick up passengers.

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