Representatives from the government and public-sector unions got together Wednesday in a preliminary meeting to seek an agreement to stop the general strike that has gripped the country since Sept. 10.
People who participated in the meeting clarified that this meeting was a first encounter to define the conditions that both parties could start negotiating to end the strike.
The archbishop of San José, José Rafael Quirós, said meeting’s goal was to establish first contact and for all parties to be able to listen to each other.
The organizations involved in the strike released a statement that said the meeting does not mean the strike against the proposed tax-reform bill would stop.
Protesters have blocked major highways around the country and impeded access to Costa Rica’s main commerce ports and fuel distribution sites.
Government officials who attended the meeting included the Minister of Labor, Steven Núñez; the Minister of Justice, Marcia González and the Minister of planning, Pilar Garrido.
“The church invited us to a first meeting without any conditions, the idea is to listen before moving on to a second phase, which would be negotiations,” Núñez said.
Nevertheless, the ministry insisted that the only way negotiations would take place is if the strike ends.
The proposed tax-reform bill that started the strike seeks to deal with the country’s growing deficit, which reached 6.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2017 and could reach 7.2 percent in 2018 without tax reform.