In a speech at the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje (INA), presidenta Laura Chinchilla said that “there are almost no poor in the public sector”.

The presidenta said on Wednesday, at the National Training Institutes’ launch of the Arts and Crafts Centre that “there may be public workers who earn less than others, but few in comparison to the private sector, where poverty is around 20%”.r

The comments were in reference to the protest marches on Tuesday that amassed a large number of public sector employees. Chinchilla questioned those who took part in the manifestation, added that “there many in the private sector that would give anything to work in the public sector”.

In her speech, the Presidenta thanked those public sector employees (an estimated 10% of the 300.000 civil servants) who did not take part in the manifestations.

Chinchilla’s comments were quickly rejected by the public sector unions.

Albino Vargas, head of the  Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados – one of the largest public sector unions – said the presidenta’s comments are “unfortunate” and even “disrespectful”.

In the same vein, Sebastian Villalobos, head of the Sindicato de Trabajadores Hacendarios y del Servicio de Aduanas, said Chinchilla’s position reflects “an ignorance” as many public sector employees earn minimal wage and live in debt.

Similar opinions were voiced by various public sector union leaders, including Jorge Arguedas, head of the Asociación Nacional de Técnicos y Trabajadores de la Energía y las Comunicaciones (Anttec).

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