QCOSTARICA – The government announced this week that it hopes to slash more than ¢8.3 billion colones to be paid out to Recope national refinery staff and chiefs. The negotiation of employees’ contracts and cutting of perks were contained in a report by the Negotiation Commission for the public sector.
The commission has asked the cutting of 19 items it considers “abusive.” In the past, Recope executives and employees were given free rides on a number of sectors, since the refinery generated its own income. But the heady days of open-handedness are over, victims of a drive to slash budgets.
The report is bound to trigger a backlash from unions, along with threats of a strike. The commission especially targeted subsidies in the Recope cafeteria, an extra salary paid out as Christmas bonus and payment of aid to workers’ children to pay day care.
Under article 110 of the current contract, Recope has to pay 43,000 to 70,000 colones extra per month to all executives earning less than 650,000 colones monthly. Moreover the perk is adjusted upward yearly for inflation. Recope also must pay 5 million colones for workers kids’ school supplies and 6.2 million in social and union activities.
Workers get a 23,000 colon bonus every time the have a child and 39,000 when they get married. The family gets 253,000 death benefits if the household head dies, “to pay for burial.” Deputy Labor Minister Harold Villegas commented, “Here as with other institutions, the the object…is to give (workers rights) but not an abuse.”
In 2013, these perks to the 1,800 employees of Recope cost 25.7 billion colones. But their ANEP union leader Albino Vargas calls the call for cuts a persecution against unions. But he probably shouldn’t worry — this is Costa Rica where the government usually caves to the unions.