Union workers and others gear up for a massive protest Tuesday

Tuesday is going to be one of those days when union employees take to the streets in what they say will be a massive demonstration.

There is no single complaint. One of the leading organizations, the Unión Nacional de Empleados de la Caja y la Seguridad Social, outlined a number of complaints, ranging from deteriorating infrastructure to concessions of public works, like the $1 billion container terminal in Moín.

The union cited the incapability of the government and the growing social inequality reflected in the deterioration of services, and institutions, the declining standard of living and corruption.

Specifically in the Caja the union cited that long wait lines for services and the number of employers who owe money.

The union called on the education sector, youth, the public sector, the employees of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, community members and pensioners to join in the protest. The response may equal some of the protests against the free trade treaty with the United States.

Strikers certainly are aware of the protests in Brazil that seem to center on the cost of living there and the expenses incurred by the central government for the coming international sports events. They are the World Cup, this month’s Confederations Cup as well as the 2016 Olympic summer games.

Expats probably can expect blocked roads in the capital as strikers march to Casa Presidencial. There also may be smaller strikes in other communities. Today the Consejo Nacional de Salarios is supposed to
announce the mandatory increase in the minimum wages for private workers. The expectation is for an increase of from 2 to 3 percent. Although most of the strikers are public employees, the increase for private employees will suggest a trend.

Naturally there will be groups with their own agendas. Workers on the public docks in Moín and Limón most certainly will protest. In the past they have done so at home. But Tuesday may be different. They are trying to kill the concession that will allow the Dutch company APM Terminals, to erect a modern container handing facility.

They fear with plenty of justification that the new facility will make their jobs obsolete.

There also will be a contingent demanding quick action on a new highway to San Ramón. They successfully protested to force the central government to pull the concession given a private firm to build the road. The protesters mostly were mad about proposed tolls. Now they want the government to step in and build the project.

There also is a general uncertainty over the way the central government can toy with contracts. The firm contracted to build the San Ramón project, OAS, wants a big payoff for losing the contract.

Industrias Infinito S.A. wants more than $1 billion because the central government and the courts prevented the cooperation of the Las Crucitas gold mine. Mallon Oil Co. is considering its option because President Laura Chinchilla basically has rejected their 11-year-old contract to do exploratory drilling for petroleum in the northern zone. Strikers also are aware of the loans being acquired by the central government.

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