Thousands of public employees on Tuesday marched eight blocks down San José’s Second Avenue to protest a 0.43 percent wage increase approved by the government earlier this month.
The demonstration began at Parque La Merced at 10 a.m. and ended at the Finance Ministry, where protesters with megaphones, banners and signs chanted slogans targeting government officials. Most of the ire was aimed at President Laura Chinchilla’s administration.
Police estimated up to 4,000 protesters attended the rally, while union leaders put the number at 7,000.
Ana Doris González, of the High School Teachers’ Association, called the salary hike “starvation wages” for teachers.
Others criticized the salaries of government ministers and lawmakers, while union leaders said they were sending a message to presidential candidates Johnny Araya, from the ruling National Liberation Party, and Luis Guillermo Solís, from Citizen Action Party.
Because teachers participated in Tuesday’s demonstrations, many classes at public schools were cancelled. Other public services were interrupted throughout the day.
Labor Minister Olman Segura defended the wage hike amount, saying protesters failed to include benefits in salary calculations.
Traffic on Second Avenue, one of San José’s most-transited roads, was interrupted for at least three hours, but returned to normal at about 1:30 p.m.