By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Frente Amplio legislator Patricia Mora sent a protest letter to the labor minister, Alfredo Hasbum, demanding a quick response about alleged human rights abuse in several pineapple and banana plantations.
According to Ms. Mora, pineapple employers are refusing to hire workers who have previously had problems with their health as well as work-related accidents.
Aside from that, these employers have allegedly created blacklists where the names of those workers remain under a “not for hire” status.
Ms. Mora said this was a common complaint she received during a recent trip to the plantations located in Guácimo, Siquirres, Pococí and Talamanca, all of them cantons in Limón province.
The same situation was apparently relayed back to her in Sarapiquí, Heredia province along with San Carlos and Los Chiles, in Alajuela.
The legislator said these actions violate statutes protecting the privacy of health records and they constitute a blatant discrimination against the most vulnerable workers. It also denies the people’s right to work, which is protected by the constitution, she said.
In the statement, the legislator asks the labor minister to start an investigation as soon as possible.
“These are very serious allegations and they emphasize the need to have a new law reform that strengthens the labor inspections department of the ministry,” she said.
Despite these allegations, the government said it maintains a constant inspection in those same plantations.
According to a release sent out Thursday by Casa Presidencial, from January 2016 to May 2017, the labor ministry conducted more than 173 inspections both in the northern and Caribbean areas of the country.
The inspections included 39 banana plantations and 16 pineapple ones.
During the first 103 visits, authorities found at least 79 companies not fully complying with labor laws. Afterwards, 70 second visits were performed and it showed that 51 of them proved full compliance and 12 did not.
The latter will be reported before the labour courts, according to the document.
“We confirm our commitment to enforce the labor laws and we will take care of any complain as soon as possible,” Nancy Marín, the vice-minister for labor, said.