The Bill that regulates strikes was approved on Tuesday in first debate. The Bill guarantees the right to strike without affecting essential services and adheres to Costa Rica’s legislation to international standards.

The Bill contains several important steps in the government’s plan to not repeat the 89 day strike last year by public sector works, one of which is the suspension of wages to striking workers, unless the strike is declared legal by a judge, because it was due to a breach of the employer, who must pay retroactively the wages.

However, the text adds that this last provision does not apply to essential services since in these strikes are illegal.

Currently, even if a strike is declared illegal, striking union workers are not sanctioned even if the strike is declared illegal by the labor courts. The current law permits workers to return to work within 24 hours of a strike being declared illegal.

While education was not declared an essential service, the Bill categorizes education as a “strategic service” in that strikes are permitted up to 21 days.

The other, the Bill would allow 48-hour strikes against public policies. With this new version, it is established that political strikes will be illegal, that is, those that do not have a direct connection with labor breaches attributable to the employer.

However, at the same time, it is established that a strike that aims to protest against public policies will be allowed, provided that these policies “directly affect the economic or social interests of workers” and do not exceed 48 hours.

In addition, two or more political strikes may not be held for the same reason.

Likewise, the right to protest marches, rallies or other demonstrations, outside working hours, without any restriction of both organized and independent workers, is protected.

However, strikes that involve blockages on public roads or that prevent access to public facilities or services, as well as those that imply sabotage of public assets or that prevent the right to work of workers who are not on strike, will be declared illegal.

Strikes will be prohibited in the following ‘essential services’:

  • Health services at all levels of care: hospitalization and home health care, outpatient consultation, medical examinations, laboratory and diagnostic tests, all types of medical-surgical service, medical and therapeutic treatments, rehabilitation, pharmacy, appointments and scheduled care and unscheduled, emergencies and emergencies, laundry, laundry, toilet, patient feeding services, surveillance, medical records, file, ambulance services and user transport, and, in general, all the activities or functions performed by the workers who carry Out services whose interruption could endanger the life or health of people.
  • Public security services, care of public facilities, surveillance, investigation, traffic police, coastguards, and custody and care of persons deprived of liberty.
  • Air traffic controllers and immigration control in airports, ports and border posts.
  • Railway, maritime transport, loading and unloading in docks and berths of medicines, medical supplies or equipment and perishable goods, tankers or fuel ships and bus and train services.
  • Firefighters, search services for missing persons, rescue of victims and disaster and emergency care services, as well as emergency calls.
  • Supply of drinking water, sanitary sewage and wastewater treatment, the supply of electricity and telecommunications.
  • The importation, transportation, distribution, and supply of fuel is provided under a monopoly regime.
  • School canteens, protection, care and shelter for children and adolescents, seniors and people with disabilities or in a state of vulnerability.
  • Judicial services in labor matters including the auxiliary services necessary for its effective provision, including autopsies and subsequent release of bodies in judicial morgues.

The final vote came at 8:53 pm Tuesday, with 40 of the 57 legislators voting in favor.

The Bill, to become law, requires discussion and approval in second and final debate before being presented to the President for signature and publication in the official government newsletter, La Gaceta.