Unions and others march today over multiple gripes

Today there is a march against just about everything. A number of organizations and social groups with complaints are joining for a march organizers say will make the streets tremble.

The teachers will march, and the legal department went to great lengths to defend the action as a constitutional right. The law says that teachers can leave their jobs without any justification for their absence as long as they tell their immediate supervisors and tell the students to stay home, the association’s lawyers reported on its Web site.

Teachers are unhappy about changes in their pension plan.

The Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados says it is unhappy with electrical rates that increase residential bills but not those of big users. Representatives of the association of unions showed up last week at the new offices of the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos, which sets the rates. The offices are in Guachipelín de Escazú, and the organization said its representatives were shocked to see that the agency was in the same building with private financial firms.

Also there were representatives of the Frente Interno de Trabajadores and of the Trabajadoras del Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. They will march today, and customer services offices and repair services of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad will be hampered. Basically the unions want the rate-setting organization to charge big users more so the electrical institute can get more money.

The motorcyclists will be out in force today, too. The Comite Civica Motorcylistas is unhappy with the dual levels of the obligatory vehicle insurance. The Instituto Nacional de Seguros set up two levels after protests last year so that some motorcycle drivers would not have to pay as much. But the lower limit of 3.5 million colons (about $7,000) is not adequate insurance, said the committee. Despite the record of motorcycle accidents and fatalities, the organization wants lower rates. Organizers are disputing the actuarial figures provided by the state insurance company and are being assisted by the legal staff of Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados.

Of course unionized employees of the Junta de Administracion Portuaria y de Desarrollo Economico de la Vertiente Atlántica will be protesting in Limón with some representatives in San Jose. The union workers oppose the plan for APM terminals to build a $1 billion container handling facility in Moín and vented their unhappiness at a public meeting Saturday. Environmental officials who were presenting their study of the proposed facility had to shut down the meeting because of the unruly union members.

The container facility is seen as the centerpiece of an economic revival for the region, but union members are trying to keep their jobs and privileges.

Marchers will be organizing at several places around the city, including Sabana Norte and the Fuente de Hispanidad in San Pedro. University students will be joining the protest there.

The central government will have hundreds of police on duty, but they have not been successful in the past in preventing road blockades and rowdiness.

Albino Vargas Barrantes, secretary general of the  Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados, estimated 10,000 participants.

The sentiment of protest is fanned by the general increase in the cost of living and the anticipation of more taxes being leveled by the central government even though no solid proposal has been advanced yet.

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