State refinery and union reach deal

The Ministerio de Trabajo is studying a new contract negotiated by the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo, S.A., and its union.

The refinery has been criticized for many excessive benefits that have been awarded its employees. The central government said that the new agreement reduces 23 of these abusive clauses and eliminates 13.

The union is the Sindicato de Trabajadores Petroleros, Químicos y Afines. The union issued a parallel statement and said that eliminating the contract entirely would only cut the price of motor fuel by two colons a liter. It also said that Costa Ricans were being deceived if they thought the price of fuel would decline if the government’s fuel monopoly was opened to outside firms.

In fact, about half the per liter price of fuel is made up of taxes. The new union contract, called a convención colectiva in Spanish, is supposed to save about 5 billion colons over the three-year term. That is about $9.3 million.

The Sala IV constitutional court has agreed to hear an appeal that the contract is unreasonable. The agreement reached Wednesday might make that appeal void.

Among the benefits that are eliminated in the new contract is a two-day leave with pay for employees upon the marriage of a son or daughter and a five-day paid leave for making a household move, said Casa Presidencial.

The refinery also has been subjected to criticism because it has many employees but does not refine any petroleum. All the motor fuel is imported, and the refinery is just a distributor.

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