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President Solís signs decree banning strikes in essential services

President Luis Guillermo Solís signed an executive decree Thursday that reiterates his government’s pledge to maintain essential services, including police and hospitals, and establish protocols to guarantee that these and other public services are not interrupted by labor disputes.

Solís told reporters at Casa Presidencial that he would sign Thursday’s decree after lifting former President Laura Chinchilla’s (2010-2014) veto on a controversial labor reform bill on Dec. 12. The decree takes effect Thursday through the next 18 months until the Reforms of Labor Procedures Bill becomes law in May 2016.

“This is to tell the people, investors, workers, that we believe that the government should guarantee continuity in public services, in these activities we have defined as essential,” Labor Minister Victor Morales said during a press conference Thursday.

The decree’s language defines “essential services” as those that would endanger “rights to life, health and public security,” which included, hospital, emergency and police services as well as port operations, telecommunications, water, energy and the transportation of patients.

President Solís said he did not agree with the labor reform law’s language that would allow for strikes in essential services, which prompted his decision to issue the decree. Morales clarified that the labor reform law permits regulated strikes in public services but that some services, like police, should have an absolute prohibition on strikes. The labor minister said that the Solís administration hoped the legislature would amend the law’s language to reflect the decree’s intention during the coming year.

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