What began Monday morning as a 48-hour strike by public sector health workers was extended for another 72 hours, that will now come to an end at 6:00 am Saturday, continuing the distress of patients awaiting surgery and medical appointments in CCSS hospitals and Ebáis across the country.

The strike by public sector health workers nothing more than to patiently wait. And wait. Photo Semanario Unviersatario

The worker unions, in announcing the extension, are demanding a negotiating table of ‘very high level’ with the commitment of the Government to respect the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) agreement signed on February 20 last.

That agreement, among other things, involved de-applying the Law on Strengthening Public Finances (Reforma Fiscal), specifically, in the modifications to the calculation of incentives, guaranteeing workers the payment of annuities and other bonuses according to the conditions that prevailed before tax reform, which has been in force since December 4.

The distress of patients awaiting surgery and appointments in hospitals and Ebáis of the CCSS will continue, as the unions in the health sector decided to continue the strike that began on Monday.

The fear by many of the insured is that the strike, that was supposed to last only two days (Monday and Tuesday) could become indefinite.

That fear resonates in the words of Marvin Atencio, leader of Siprocimeca, who said: “Authorities have been unable to sustain and resolve this conflict with a legally clear agreement signed on February 20 by all trade union organizations (…).”

The extension of the strike implies that patients with scheduled surgeries for the rest of the week would be kept waiting. The same for many with appointments to see a doctor and/or specialist.

By 5:00 pm Tuesday, the CCSS data revealed that the numbers of workers joining the strike movement had grown to 25% (up from 21% in the morning)  – 14,570 of the 57,584 Caja employees – and of the 29,054 scheduled appointments, only 14,131 were completed and only 3,315 operations performed of the 6,608 scheduled.