Following eight hours of talks in their fifth “preliminary meeting” on Monday between the government and public sector unions failed to end the strike of public employees now in its 16th day.

The government negotiating team led by the Minister of Labor Steven Nuñez

Both sides are expected to re-sit today, Tuesday, at 3 pm.

At 11 pm Monday, Minister of Labor Steven Núñez said that “today we fell back, we did not achieve progress achieved in previous days. It hurts me a lot. Within the trade union leadership there are people who have a willingness to negotiate, but we have been able to identify others who do not want to.”

At 11:30 pm, Albino Vargas Barrantes, leader of theAsociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos (ANEP), the largest of the public sector unions, said that “we are completely united, categorically deny the perverse manifestations of the Government by insinuating that there is division between us. It is absolutely false. The Union leadership (made up of 22 trade unions) remains tightly united. ”

Albino Vargas (left) of the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos (ANEP) aand Luis Chavarría, of the Unión de Empleados de la Caja (Undeca)

“The government wants to divide us with vulgar blackmail,” Vargas added, who said that everything Nunez said is “a lie.”

Stalemate

The government is insisting that for the talks to move to a “formal dialogue” the strike must be deposed and that “the plan” or tax reform that is being processed by the Legislative Assembly will not be withdrawn.

So far both sides have spent more than 47 hours with the aim of ending the strike that has generated the cancellation of more than 2,300 surgeries and more than 66,000 appointments in public hospitals, continues to keep more than half (52%) of public schools closed and generated the postponement of high school exams, roadblocks, violence that has cast a black on the country known for peace and ‘Pura Vida’ in the region and on the world stage.