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Mental Hospital Workers Reach Accord in Strike

June 6, 2008

A strike that paralyzed the nation’s largest psychiatric hospital ended last week after negotiators reached a compromise.

From May 16-23, approximately 100 workers of the NationalPsychiatric Hospital in San José were on strike, protesting working conditions and the lack of staff to control and treat the asylum’s 700 patients, many of them severely mentally ill.

The Social Security Administration, also  known as the Caja, agreed to create 50 newpositions in the short term and study the creation of more positions by January, among other measures.

Union leadership had originally demanded 262 new positions, a higher stipend for working with high-risk patients and an improved vacation policy.

Union leader Carlos Gómez framed the results of the negotiations as a success.

“This is a great victory in the workingclass battle,” he said. “We obtained 50 new positions for different departments in January, the awarding of permanent positions to all temporary workers, a budget increase of ¢100 million (about $200,000) for equipment and a doubling of the stipend.” He added that the Caja tried to resist the settlement.

A press release from the Caja framed the results differently.

“(Hospital Director) Rosa María Villalobos as well as Caja Chief Administrator Alberto Acuña indicate their satisfaction with the agreement and recognized the openness the institution has always had to sit down with workers to negotiate,” it states.

The release states 15 new positions will be created in cleaning and 35 more in nursing, administration and security.

 

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