Although too early to call it a failure it can, however, be called a set back for the young administration of Luis Gmo. Solís, in its attempt to put an end to the teachers strike – now in its 15th day, a strike inherited from the previous administration, that on Friday gained the support of other public workers unions.
The negotiations between the teachers union representatives and government officials, that included the President himself and the partial payment of salaries, did nothing to instill confidence in the teachers to go back to the classroom and that their salary payment problems will be resolved.
Friday night the teachers union confirmed that protests will continue next week and until it can be confirmed that ALL teachers receive their second salary payment for May by 10pm Monday.
Last Sunday, President Luis Gmo. Solís announced that the month end salary payment to teachers who have been experiencing salary payment problems – some going back to the beginning the school year in February – would be made on May 28, two days in advance of the regular pay day.
This measure was insufficient for the teacher unions who demanding immediate payment.
To avoid a national strike by teachers, that could earn the support of other public sector unions, on Wednesday the government announced a plan to pay immediately those teachers most in need.
The plan, with the support of the Costa Rican Banking Association, would permit teachers who could prove their problems with the Ministerio de Educación Pública (MEP) could apply and receive immediate payment deposited into their bank account. The payment would be made by the Banco Popular and treated as a loan.
The government had anticipated some 3.000 teachers – about 1/3 of the affected – to apply. But between Thursday and Friday, only 299 teachers had done so.
Ana Doris González, president of the Asociación de Profesores de Segunda Enseñanza (APSE) – teachers union – said the low turnout is attributed to the non-clarity of the process and mistrust among the teachers.
González explained that few teachers were willing to sign a document for an advance on their salary, which in some case is up to four months and then have to pay interest on the money.
González sees the move (the temporary loan) as confirmation of the government’s unwillingness to pay.
Friday night the unions sought to give Education Minister, Sonia Marta Mora, a document with multiple proposals. However, they refused to give it to deputy MEP minister Rocío Solís, attending the meeting on behalf of Mora.