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Dialogue to end the strike comes to a standstill

September 25, 2018

The dialogue between the government and public sector unions that aimed to end the general strike stalled this Monday. There were mutual accusations of inflexibility between the parties, which are preparing to resume talks another day.

The fifth session of dialogue, held Monday and mediated by the Catholic church, ended at around midnight with accusations. Both parties were nowhere closer to ending the strike that started Sept. 10 against a proposed tax-reform bill.

The Labor Minister, Steven Núñez, who is leading the government delegation, accused the block of public sector unions of rejecting the path drafted with the church’s support to start negotiations on tax reform.

In a statement released Tuesday, the government said that the rejected path aimed to take advantage of a deadline granted by the legislative process where agreements on fiscal issues could be reached in the form of decrees, guidelines, regulations and other administrative measures.

The government insisted that unions should stop the strike during these negotiations. The strike has provoked road blockades, class suspensions in schools and universities, and disruptions in hospitals and state clinics.

“Despite the government’s efforts to reach a consensus, the unions gave a resounding no to this path of dialogue and understanding,” the official statement said.

In the same tone, the union coalition said in a statement that “the government was not able, till this day, to reach agreements.”

The workers’ representatives proposed inviting the leaders of other legislative factions to participate in negotiating a new tax reform.

The reform seeks to contain an increasing deficit in public accounts that reached 6.2 percent of the gross domestic product (Gross domestic product) of last year and is going to reach 7.2 percent of the gross domestic product this year without the plan, according to the Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR).

The unions claim that the discussed project is onerous for the sectors of lower incomes, although the government argues that 80 percent of the new taxes will fall on the richest 20 percent.

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