QCOSTARICA – The union collective Patria Justa is serious this time in their call for an indefinite strike action, set to commence Monday morning.
The call has provoked a fury of hundreds of Costa Ricans who, on the social networking sites, are asking the President to defend the country against the threat of a paralysis of services, that includes fuel distribution, the Limon docks, hospitals and other public services.
The leader of Patria Justa confirmed Sunday that the workers of the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo (RECOPE), the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), and some municipalities will join the protest.
Albino Vargas, secretary-general of the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos (ANEP), one of the largest of the public workers unions and leader of the Patria Justa movement, is appealing to “all workers” in the country to focus the protest in 10 different parts of the country.
What is the strike about?
Although the demands are varied, at the heart of the matter is the “Salario Unico” proposal, the unions rejecting the government’s plan, calling the proposal “a reckless, provocative and destabilizing decision by the Minister of Labour, Victor Morales, against collective labour agreements”.
The Patria Justa, formed last June, creating an “agenda for the common good of the country” and with the support of the Partido Accion Cuidadana (PAC) – ruling party and the Frente Amplio party. Neither party has referred publicly on tomorrow’s strike.
The October 26 date was announced earlier this month, in which during this time union leaders have been negotiation with government officials. On Thursday, following a meeting lasting several hours between union and government officials, Vargas announced the strike is on.
[su_pullquote class=”H2″]The current mood of the unions was predicted by Q blogger Richard Philps in his article “The Unions Smell Blood” of February 14, 2014, ahead of the presidential elections that saw a triumphant win by Solis.[/su_pullquote]For his part, on Sunday morning President Luis Guillermo Solis said the government will not tolerate a disruption of public services.
“We will do whatever we have to do that the protest does not get out of hand and has a negative, undesirable effect on the lives of people who have to work and want to work,” said the President.
Although the majority of protests in Costa Rica are non-violent in nature, they can and have disrupted the flow of traffic, blockades set up on major highways.
Some of the routes that will probably be affected by the strike include the Ruta 32 (Limon to San Jose); Ruta 27 (Ciudad Colon to San Jose); Ruta 1 – the Autopista General Cañas, between Alajuela and San Jose and the Bernardo Soto, between the international airport and San Ramon; the Circunvalacion (ring road).
Recommended is to avoid, if at all possible, the areas of demonstrations or large gatherings. A peaceful gathering can quickly tune confrontational and escalate into violence.
In the words of Albino Vargas, “it will last as long as the governments wants it to last”.