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No deal: Government and unions postpone meeting to discuss an agreement

October 1, 2018

The government and public sector unions, which have been on a strike for three weeks, postponed a meeting to discuss a preliminary agreement to lift the strike, the Catholic Church said this Sunday.

The appointment should have taken place Sunday afternoon, but it was cancelled because multiple unions rejected a preliminary agreement their leaders reached with the government.

A short statement of the Episcopal Conference said the meeting was being moved to Monday “upon request of the government and the unions.”

“The refusal of the agreement is general, on Monday the strike enters its 22nd day,” said Albino Vargas, secretary of the National Association of public and Private Employees (ANEP), one of the biggest unions in Costa Rica.

The rejection created uncertainty about the strike, which has interrupted classes in public schools, interfered with hospital services, blocked streets and hampered exports Costa Rica’s main harbor in the Caribbean.

President Carlos Alvarado said that the government stays open to discussion with unions that are willing to accept the deal.

The details of the agreement have been kept secret, but some outlets reported that it considered not deducting the salary of workers who participated in the strike and allowed for negotiations to compensate for possible effects of the proposed tax-reform bill.

Public sector unions started the strike on Sept. 10, claiming that the proposed tax-reform bill hurts the most underprivileged sectors.

The government argues that 80 percent of the new tax revenue will come from the wealthiest 20 percent of the population.

This tax reform seeks to retain a deficit of 6.2 percent of the GDP, which could increase to 7.2 percent of the GDP this year without the reform, according to the Central Bank of Costa Rica.

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