Get ready for another possible round of strikes by public health sector workers following the Contraloría General de la República (CGR) – Comptroller’s Office – decision on Thursday, ordering the Board of Directors of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) pay bonuses according to tax law.

Remember this, the president of the Caja and trade union leaders holding the signed agreement to end the strike by public health sector workers. Well, the deal is off, the Comptroller’s Office poopooed the deal.

The order voids the agreement signed by Román Macaya Hayes, the executive president of the Caja, with the trade unions to end the strike last month.

In that agreement, the Caja agreed to maintain the bonuses as had agreed earlier in the year, in February, and again in August, signed my Macaya, and contrary to the Reforma Fiscal (Tax Reform) that went into effect in December 2018.

The Comptroller’s order means that the 57,000 employees of the Caja will receive a fixed amount bonus as provided by the tax law, and not to continue paying bonuses in percentage form, which implies an exponential increase in public spending, negotiated to put and end to the strike.

The requirement by the CGR is without discussion: The CCSS board of directors must ignore the two agreements.

For its part, in a statement Thursday afternoon informed, the CCSS said it “will be respectful of the order issued by the Comptroller’s Office” and, for this, summoned its directors to an extraordinary session on Tuesday, September 10.

The Minister of Communication, Nancy Marín the CCSS decision to comply and the convening of the meeting of the CCSS board next week.

What we don’t have yet is word from the trade unions.

On Thursday, the second and final debate of the bill to regulate strikes, that includes health services, was postponed when a group of legislators filed a request for a Constitutional Court consult that can take up to 30 days.

The ‘strike law’ bill, passed in a first debate earlier in the week, would, among other things, limit strikes to 48 hours, if justified. For brevity, the new law, when and if approved, would deem strikes by essential services illegal and wages to be docked, unless a labor court deems the strike legal.

Currently, strikes are deemed legal and no sanctions apply is workers head back to work with 24 hours of a court declaring a strike illegal.