Teacher unions reject call to return to classrooms

No end is in sight for Costa Rica’s teacher strikes.

Unions rejected a government proposal Wednesday aimed at putting an immediate halt to the strikes while officials worked to solve the issue of unpaid salaries. Teacher representatives said they would not stop coordinating strikes until all teachers were paid in full, according to the Asociación Nacional de Educadores.

Though President Luis Guillermo Solís has communicated his obvious concern that the strikes are hurting public school students, teachers have insisted they won’t return to classrooms until the broken payroll system, Integra2, is fixed.

The government also proposed that teachers go to regional offices to fill out personal payment forms, but union leaders rejected the idea and said teachers should not have to go out of their way because of the government’s mistake.

An educators association report said teachers think the Ministerio de Educación should have more workers available to fulfill the 48-hour deadline it was given on Tuesday.

They are also requesting that the investigation into Integra2 be done by a bipartisan commission that avoids conflicts of interest.

The minister of Educación, Sonia Marta Mora
Escalante, said at the Wednesday meeting that teachers must be receptive in negotiations to a possible re-do of the school calendar so that students are not cheated out of their educations.

After the proposal’s rejection Ms. Mora announced that the government promises to have a solution worked out today that ensures the full payment of all teachers.

“Our solidarity is on the side of the teachers who are having problems receiving their wages,” she said. “We will continue implementing solutions to bring the situation back to normal. The government has an obligation to help teachers, families, and students.”

Of the more than 77,000 teachers in the Integra2 database, the ministry said it detected only 17 who had problems on Monday’s payday.

However, the teachers unions said thousands were complaining that they again did not receive their normal bi-weekly salary.

During the first three 15-day pay periods that were handed by the Integra2, there were only 1,000 ministry employees who experienced pay problems, said the ministry based on a data analysis.

The educators association announced more strikes for today, which will be concentrated by region.

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