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Costa Rica hospital workers strike

August 15, 2008

San José‘s CalderónGuardiaHospital employees took action yesterday in what turned into an “indefinite strike” after Costa Rican health officials refused to answer a union demand to give the hospital’s former director, Luis Paulino Hernández, his job back.

 

The strike was set today to spread to hospital staff in the Southern Zone town of Pérez Zeledón and the Caribbean slope town of Guápiles, according to Damaris Marín, a spokeswoman for the Social Security System (Caja), which manages the nation’s public health care.

 

Emergency unit workers did not participate in the strike, however, according to Alexis Castillo, spokesman for the Medical Science Professionals Union.

 

The union, along with members of the National Medical Union, called a strike to run yesterday from 7 to 11 a.m., after which time it would become “indefinite” if the demands weren’t met.

 

A Caja management committee last week sacked Hernández, along with Carlos Vílchez, Calderón Guardia Hospital’s administration chief, Fernando Roldán, its maintenance chief, after an investigation found they neglected internal control laws when a July 2005 fire raged through the hospital’s fourth and fifth floors, killing 19 people.

 

Castillo said the suspensions break Costa Rican labor law and rules of due process.

 

Caja management, for its part, questioned the legality of a work stoppage as a means of overturning a decision that was made “in strict abidance to judicial regulations,” according to Caja President Dr. Eduardo Doryan.

“The strike is illegal and unconstitutional,” Doryan said repeatedly during a press conference yesterday.

 

He said he hopes the strike will not continue today, adding, with no specification, that “corrective measures” will be taken if it does.

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