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QCOSTARICA – Membership in unions in Costa Rica is losing grounds to other forms of association of workers, such as solidarity.

Between 2013 and 2014, the number of union members declined by 14,016 workers, while solidarity grew by 9,250, as evidenced by the Statistical Yearbook 2014, the Ministry of Labour (Anuario Estadístico 2014, del Ministerio de Trabajo in Spanish).

In the time period, the joint union power in the public and private sector decreased from 201,109 to 193,093 members.

While, the solidarity movement grew to 309,715 workers from 300,465.

During the 1997 to 1998 period, trade unions experienced the largest loss of members, when membership fell by 17,787. In that period, the number of union workers went from 152,778 to 134,991. The percentage of workers represented by unions in respect to the total working population was 10.4%. A year later, in 1999, unionization temporarily rose to 12.2%, according to the 2010 Statistical Yearbook.

However, fighting between the various unions and the government over the “Combo ICE” project , that failed to privatize the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE).

Following the failure, union militancy never reached the same level and began a steady decline droping to 9.9% in 2013 and bottoming at 9.4% last year.

Some of the largest (private and public worker) unions in the country include the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados (ANEP) and the Asociación Nacional de Educadores (ANDE).

Among the largest country solidarity associations are the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), with more than 32,000 members, and the National Bank (Banco Nacional), with more than 5,000.

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