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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Health strike ends in Costa Rica as unions, Caja reach agreement

Government representatives and health unions reached an agreement Monday afternoon to end strikes that crippled the country’s public-health system for more than a week.

According to a release from union leaders, the deal contains 15 conditions, which among them stipulate that the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS, or Caja) should initiate an arbitration process to further review annuities and incentives; continue backpay negotiations; draft a bill to maintain biweekly payment; and take no retaliatory action against trade unionists who participated in the strikes.

“The arrangement was guided by the principles of legality and the legal framework that prevails in Costa Rica to guarantee social and labor peace, and the protection of essential principles, such as the right to life and health,” a CCSS release read.

The Minister of the Presidency, Víctor Morales, clarified that the 15-point agreement with the unions does not necessarily imply salary increases or new benefits for the sector.

Health unions had been protesting tax-adjustment policies enacted as part of Costa Rica’s recent fiscal reform. The changes include tax increases and a reduction in annuities.

At least 67,000 medical appointments were canceled or postponed due to the strike, according to CCSS data. The demonstrations also impacted pharmacies and EBAIS, public community health clinic managed by the Caja.

Government officials and union representatives met for 42 hours as part of their negotiations, according to Casa Presidencial.

This story was updated Tuesday at 9 a.m. with information from Casa Presidencial and AFP. 


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