With the Limón dockworkers union poised to strike, President Luis Guillermo Solís promised Tuesday he would not allow a job action to affect the operations of the port.
If a strike is called, Solís may have to send police into the Moín terminal to keep his promise. A prolonged strike might mean temporary non-union workers.
Costa Rica has been down this road before because the Sindicato de Trabajadores de Japdeva y Afines Portuarios has called strikes repeatedly in the past.
Presidential action might have been foreshadowed earlier this month when Fuerza Pública officers and traffic police cracked down on pirate taxi drivers who were blocking a major highway in Hatillo. There were arrests and vehicles were confiscated.
Previous administrations have been reluctant to confront strikers and considered blockades, work stoppages and similar to be the right of workers. Protesters paralyzed the country several times over the North American Free Trade Treaty
during the Abel Pacheco and Óscar Arias Sánchez administrations.
The big difference now is that the government holds the upper hand because there is extensive public support for the controversial $1 billion container handling facility. And union members have alienated some due to the disruptive way they broke up a hearing over the terminal.
Still, the government is hopeful that there will not be a strike The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said Tuesday that the new container facility run by APM Terminals would not be a monopoly and that 40 percent of the goods that pass through the Moín docks are not in containers. Jorge Mora of the Consejo Nacional de Concesiones, who way quoted saying this, was trying to assure dockworkers that they would not lose their jobs. He also said that the new terminal, because it is a concession, will always belong to the state.
No one is expecting a reaction from Solís similar to that of U.S. president Ronald Reagan, who fired striking air traffic controllers in 1981, or the way president Harry Truman sent in the Army to run U.S. railroads in 1950.