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Dockworkers strike declared illegal after union loses appeal

Soon after striking longshoremen reached a partial deal with the Atlantic Port Authority, JAPDEVA, to return to work Thursday, a court in Limón declared the strike illegal, rejecting the union’s appeal filed Monday.

The government’s deal allowed workers to return to their jobs without losing pay for the two weeks of strikes or the threat of dismissal. The deal brought workers back to the docks but does not resolve the ongoing dispute between the government and SINTRAJAP, the longshoremen’s union, over the $1 billion concession to APM Terminals to build a modern container facility in Moín, on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast.

The announcement had barely hit the airwaves before Libertarian Movement Party lawmaker Otto Guevara filed a lawsuit against JAPDEVA leadership for alleged embezzlement, arguing that paying the workers for their time on strike was akin to an abuse of authority. Labor Minister Victor Morales said in a statement that the government’s hands were tied when it came to levying sanctions against workers who walked off the job, citing a Supreme Court decision that made a distinction between the legality of a strike and the legal grounds to fire someone.

“The government of the Republic reiterates its promise to respect the rule of law. For this reason, it is not possible, in the current conditions, to apply sanctions,” Morales said in the statement.

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