The Government and union leaders announced reaching a ‘preliminary agreement’ in the wee hours of this Saturday morning, but the strike continues, not in its 20th day.

At 4:50 Friday, the union leadership and the government in a brief press conference announcing a preliminary agreement was reached. Photo Jeffrey Zamora

The announcement was made at 4:50 am, after 14 hours of negotiations, past the 10 pm Friday deadline both sides had agreed in advance as the time limit for the talks.

The content of the agreement was not disclosed, both sides agreeing to keep reserved until the union leaders have had an opportunity to consult its acceptance with their membership.

The result of the union membership accepting or rejecting the agreement will come on Sunday, at 3:00 pm at the Casa Arzobispal (Archbishop’s House), next to the Cathedral in downtown San José, which hosted the last meetings between the sides to the conflict.

“I’m not going to give information respecting the agreement, my role is only to take the agreement to consult the bases,” said Gilberto Cascante, president of the Asociación Nacional de Educadores (ANDE) – National Association of Educators.

Priest Edwin Aguiluz, who serves as spokesman for the mediating team of the Catholic Church, said that “the social movement (the strike) is still valid (ongoing) while the consultation is being made.”

Aguiluz, Cascante and the Minister of Labor, Steven Núñez, gave the brief press conference. Neither side would not speculate when the strike would be over.

Important to note, the agreement, if ratified by the union membership, is the ‘preliminary text’, a prelude if you will, to the ‘mesa de diálogo’ – the official talks between the government and unions.

“If finally the document is approved by the union bases on Monday we would be installing the (formal) dialogue table,” said the priest, who added that the union leaders are a representative of their respective memberships and must consult them first to any formal agreement. “That is the procedure that the Union Union has established.”

To the question of why there is no truce in the blockades or obstruction of roads on the part of the strikers, Aguiluz said that this was not raised because the preliminary talks “were without conditions.”

During this week, each side stood firm in their demands: the government demanding that the strike be called off before any formal dialogue; on their part, the unions are continuing being firm that the strike will only be called off if the Plan Fiscal (Tax Reform) is withdrawn from the Legislative process.

Barring any leaks, it will be on Sunday afternoon when we will learn of the details, if there is an agreement to continue to the formal dialogue, and if and when the strike will be at an end.

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