Judge declares strike illegal in education sector in Costa Rica

Judge declares strike illegal in education sector in Costa Rica

A labor judge declared illegal today in the education sector the union strike that began on September 10 against a tax reform in Costa Rica, which is a blow to the main bastion of the movement.

In his ruling, Judge Francisco Quesada declared the strike illegal because it was not peaceful when the strikers took part in roadblocks that impeded the right to free movement of other people.

"They participated - collectively - of the demonstrations that led to total blockades of many national communication channels," the resolution states, adding that "it is reprehensible to act and can not be considered a peaceful movement."

"That act is a notorious fact, of collective transcendence, in which the right to free transit was totally violated," adds the ruling, which can be appealed by the parties within three days.

The Minister of Public Education, Edgar Mora, called on the striking staff to come tomorrow to work "calmly" and without fear of reprisals, in order to achieve "the normalization of our education system."

For his part, the president of the National Association of Educators (ANDE), Gilberto Cascante, called for "calm" to teachers, because the sentence of illegality is "in the first instance" and can be appealed in the next three days.

"We call for calm, the sentence is in the first instance, it is not firm, we are going to consult with the bases to make decisions, we do not feel anxious," Cascante said in a video posted on the union's social networks.

The union bases of the education sector will meet tomorrow to define if the strike continues or they deposed.

The strike has been weakening with the passing of days and unions in the education sector are what remain strongest with support for the movement of around 70 percent of the staff.

Last Saturday the main unions of the health sector, which was the other bastion of the movement, reached an agreement with the Government to strike down and establish a space for dialogue.

Last Friday the Congress approved the tax reform in its first debate, which will be reviewed by various institutions, including the Constitutional Chamber, whose resolution will depend on whether the deputies can give a second debate to the fiscal initiative.

The unions believe that the reform is regressive and hits the middle and lower classes, so it trusts that the Constitutional Chamber will declare it unconstitutional both for the way it was processed in Congress and the fund.

According to the Government, the tax plan seeks to collect fresh resources equivalent to about 1.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to stabilize finances and reduce the projected deficit to 7.1 percent of GDP by 2018.

The plan converts the sales tax of 13 percent into one of value added (VAT) of the same rate, but that will tax the services and, in a differentiated way, some products that were previously exempt.

It also includes changes in income tax, capital income, global income and measures to reduce public spending, such as the reduction of salary bonuses.

The Government assures that 80 percent of the collection of the fiscal plan will fall on the 20 percent of the population of greater income.


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