Tuesday 21 September 2021

Time For Plan B. Is There A Plan B?

Public sector employees rejected the agreement reached between government representatives and their union leadership. The national strike continues today now in day 22.

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It is necessary now to start to implement a plan B, as the national strike continues into day 22, now that the union membership rejected on Sunday the preliminary agreement worked by Government and union representatives in over 100 hours of talks in the last two weeks.

The Ministra de Justicia, Marcia González (in red) with the Ministro de Trabajo, Steven Nuñez (to her right) at a press conference Sunday after learning through social netoworks publilc sector employees had rejected the agreement reached between the government and unionl leaders the day before.

On Sunday, the government negotiating team led by the Ministro de Trabajo (Minister of Labor), Steven Nuñez, did not take the news well when union representatives forced the cancelation of the the scheduled 3 pm expecting to announce the details of the agreement and the dates for the ‘formal dialogue’, posting Sunday morning on their social networks that they regretted what they had negotiated with the government to end the strike against the Plan Fiscal (Tax Reform), assuring the work stoppage of the public sector and demonstrations will continue.

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The news was posted by the different trade union organizations leading the strike action, including the Asociación Nacional de Educadores (ANDE), the Asociación de Profesores de Segunda Enseñanza (APSE), the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados (ANEP), the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Educación Costarricense (SEC) and the Unión Nacional de Empleados de la Caja (Undeca).

For its part, the Sindicato Nacional de Enfermería (Sinae) -National Union of Nursing – says that although it supports the Government’s proposal, is subject to the decision of the majority of unions and, therefore, also supports the continuation of the strike.

The Ministra de Justicia (Justice Minister), Marcia González, blamed the same union leaders in talks with the government representatives who went to their members to boycott the agreement.

“This agreement was built by both parties, it is a matter of credibility to come to say after more than 100 hours (…) that we come to say that it is a document proposed by the Government.

“Worrying us also is that these union leaders were with us until dawn (Saturday) and that it was some of these leaders, the same ones who have gone to their bases to boycott the agreement, that is not valid in a democracy (…) there are many others who do have positive leadership and are willing to build and we will continue working with them because this is a task that only together we will achieve,” said Gonzalez.

The minister also described as a lack of seriousness on the part of the union leadership, given the way in which the rejection of the agreed document was disclosed.

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“On Facebook and in the streets is not the way to respond to a proposal that has been taken in all seriousness,” stressed minister Nuñez during a press conference Sunday afternoon.

The Minister of Labor said that the Government fulfilled its part in this stage of rapprochement and there will be no more meetings to work on the agreement.

“We are not going to negotiate with those groups that do not end strike … We stayed for more than 100 hours (of negotiation) loyal to our word … the union groups did not comply,” said the Justice Minister.

Without revealing which groups would be willing to advance in the process, Gonzalez recognized that throughout the negotiation “there were positions that were stronger than others, there were groups within the Trade Union Unity that were willing to move forward.”

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The Minister of Labor, during the press conference, assured added that while they seek out a dialogue to end the strike, the process of declarations of illegality continues.

32 government institutions and ministries filed their respective declarations. To date, only 10 filings have been resolved, in each case the court declaring the strike action illegal given that it is not an employer-employee dispute, rather one of policy.

However, the process to get the employees back to work or even have their salaries docked is complex, parties have to be notified and appeals exhausted before any resolution can be firm and binding.

The minister stressed that “If declarations of illegality remain firm, wages will be reduced.”

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