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ICE unions announce strike, protest later this month

July 13, 2015

Workers unions at the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) plan to go on a one-day strike on July 27 to protest against privatization and recent, perceived public insults.

The strike and a demonstration on the capital’s streets were announced at a press conference Monday by Fabio Chaves, coordinator of the Internal Workers Front, a coalition of seven ICE unions, and Albino Vargas, the leader of Patria Justa, a collective of several public sector unions.

The unions are protesting the “Electric Contingency Bill,” a plan under discussion in the Legislative Assembly that would allow increased participation of private electricity generators in the country’s energy market. Currently private generators supply some 17 percent of the country’s electricity needs.

They’re also angry about the ₡2.2 billion ($4 million) fine issued by the Telecommunications Superintendency against ICE for unfair competition in its mobile services marketing strategies.

Finally, ICE workers will march to show their rejection of what they call “Otto Guevara’s campaign” against them, referring to the Libertarian Movement Party lawmaker who last week denounced what he said were excessively high salaries paid to several ICE employees.

The public protest will begin at 7 a.m. at ICE facilities in front of La Sabana park. At 10 a.m. demonstrators will begin marching to the Legislative Assembly in downtown San José.

Chaves said they expect some 10,000 ICE employees to join the demonstration. He said it would have minimal affect on ICE customers, “mainly reduced staff in customer service and at some regional ICE branches,” he said.

The street protest was originally scheduled for July 20, but union leaders decided to postpone it because of the national flooding emergency affecting several communities across the country in the past weeks, Chaves said.

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