Mon. Dec 9th, 2019

Strong rejection of agreement with unions shakes the government in Costa Rica



A strong rejection of the business sector, of the opposition, of the media and even inside the cabinet to a controversial agreement signed with the unions of the health sector to depose a strike, is generating a shock to the Government of Carlos Alvarado in Costa Delicious.

After eight days of strike the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), with support from the Government, signed an agreement last Monday with the unions in the health sector to end the movement that caused 50% of the surgeries to be affected, 38 % of medical consultations, among other areas.

The unions demanded that since the CCSS is an autonomous entity, it should not be subject to the tax reform approved last December that reduces and modifies salary bonuses for public workers, and that it should not be included in a tax rule that limits budgets from the public sector

The Constitutional Chamber ruled last June and in its ruling established that the CCSS cannot be subject to the fiscal rule due to the nature of its functions and the services it provides.

Last February the CCSS and the unions agreed that the bonuses would not be modified, but in July the Government issued a decree that includes all public workers in the tax reform, which motivated the union strike.

The reform establishes that the bonuses will no longer be calculated as a percentage of the salary, but that they will be paid on a nominal basis, in order to curb their constant growth.

In the agreement signed on Monday with the permission of the Minister of the Presidency, Víctor Morales, and the Minister of Labor, Steven Núñez, to end the strike, it establishes that the difference will be taken to court, and while there is a ruling the bonuses will continue to be paid in percentage.

Experts in the field affirm that such a process can take years.

This is what has caused the indignation of the business sector, the political opposition, the media and even the Minister of Finance, Rocío Aguilar.

"I totally disagree with what was carried out in the Caja," Aguilar said in a forum about the country's economic news.

Aguilar has been the key piece of the Government for the processing and implementation of the controversial fiscal reform, which was supported by the business sector and the political opposition in exchange for curbing the growth of public spending.

"The agreement to end the strike is illegal and unacceptable. They are practically kidnapping the Fund in everyone's noses. But above all, the strike, which even fatalities had, is rewarded with this unacceptable agreement," said the president of the Chamber of Industries, Enrique Egloff.

The Chamber of Exporters (Cadexco) called the agreement with the unions "a terrible concession to unsustainable demands."

"It is a slap in the confidence that the productive sector endorsed this government and the willingness to accept new taxes under the commitment of executing, by the Public Administration, measures to contain public spending," said Cadexco.

The Chamber of Commerce called the agreement with the unions as "shameful and unacceptable" because it considers that it "defaults the Government's commitment to rescue the fiscal imbalance facing Costa Rica."

The political opposition has strongly criticized the Government of Alvarado and has already asked the Comptroller General of the Republic to investigate the negotiation, declare the agreement signed illegal because it contravenes the tax reform and also to explore possible criminal responsibilities of the officials who signed.

Meanwhile, the Government ensures that no new bonuses have been granted to CCSS workers and that it will be the courts that must define whether it is legal to modify those benefits.

Another point of the agreement that has caused discomfort in various sectors is that the authorities promised not to take action against the workers who were on strike.

During the eight days of the strike, the unions affirmed that one of the main reasons was to fight against the privatization of the CCSS.

However, there are no bills or privatization plans, and in the agreement there is also no specific point in this regard.

. (tagsToTranslate) Strong (t) unions (t) Government (t) Costa (t) Rica



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