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Court Cases Prompt Mass Resignations

June 2, 2006

A series of rulings by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) eliminating certain employee benefits offered by public institutions has resulted in mass resignations at the National Insurance Institute (INS), as well as calls to rethink other perks public workers enjoy.

At press time, more than 260 employees who worked for INS for more than eight years had resigned, fearing that the Sala IV might rule that they, like most workers in Costa Rica, can receive a maximum of eight months’ severance pay. Now, according to their workers’ agreement, INS workers receive one month’s pay for every year they’ve worked for the institute, according to the daily Al Día.

Sala IV justices had not ruled on that issue by press time, but have already ruled to eliminate other benefits for workers from INS, the Social Security System (Caja), the National Oil Refinery (RECOPE) and the National Power and Light Company (CNFL), such as grants for dependents of public employees, the daily reported. The rulings are the result of cases filed by former Libertarian Movement legislators Federico Malavassi and Carlos Herrera, who presented the Sala IV with 20 suits and asked that benefits be cancelled.

Malavassi told Al Día that union contracts are “a contagious disease that ruins Costa Ricans, since we all end up paying for the privileges.”

However, union representatives maintain the Sala IV is stripping workers of their rights.

Other public institutions whose worker benefits are under consideration by the high court include the Central Bank, which grants 15 paid days’ leave for employees who need to present a thesis; the University of Costa Rica (UCR), which offers free tuition to family members of employees and retired workers; and RECOPE, which gives paid leave to attend regional festivals, Al Día reported. The lawsuits still pending review by justices include approximately 120 worker benefits.

 

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