Vol.19 No.816 Friday Edition, August 16, 2019




Concerning claims from the business sector about the privileges that Social Security employees receive, president Alvarado said there are some regulations being applied in accordance with the Law on Strengthening Public Finance.  / Casa Presidencial courtesy photo.

President Alvarado discusses the agreement between Government and Social Security Unions

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Carlos Alvarado clarifies questions about the agreement signed last week, between Social Security authorities and Union leaders, to stop the strike.

According to President Alvarado's statements, the government's priority was to stop the strike that affected more than 120,000 patients due to lack of medical attention. "If this strike had continued, the figure would have continued to increase," said the president.

Concerning claims from the business sector about the privileges that Social Security employees receive, president Alvarado said there are some regulations being applied in accordance with the Law on Strengthening Public Finance.

According to the government, the regulations that are applied for Social Security employees are a reduction in severance payment from 20 to 8 years. The extra annual payments were reduced from 5.3 to 1.9. The exclusive dedication payment was also reduced.

Severance payment, annual payments, and exclusive dedication payments are part of the extra salaries that Social Security employees receive.

According to the government, these extra wage benefits are the result of agreements between the Union and previous governments, to stop the strikes of 1982, 1985, 1990, 1999, 2004, and 2007.

These salary privileges approved in the past "are what we are trying to solve today," said President Alvarado.

According to the government, the agreement signed last week was sent to the court to analyze the extra payments received by Social Security employees before December 2018.

The application of these payments will be analyzed in court, and both parties, government, and union agreed to respect the judge's statement.

The president called on political parties for the approval of the bill that seeks to regulate strikes in the public sector.

On Thursday, as A.M. Costa Rica previously reported, the Costa Rican - U.S. Chamber of Commerce, known as AmCham, announced the rejection of the content of the recent agreement, signed between Social Security authorities and Union leaders known as Undeca.

According to AmCham, this agreement is contrary to the commitment that President Carlos Alvarado asked of all Costa Ricans.

The chamber considers the agreement to be a signal for other public institutions to seek to be excluded from the tax law, especially as it pertains to the salaries of public employees.

According to the chamber, the agreement signed to stop the strike sends a bad signal to the risk rating agencies, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and multilateral organizations.

AmCham calls on the government to require the authorities of public institutions to comply with the provisions of the Law on Strengthening Public Finance.

In response to the claims made by representatives of the business sector, Víctor Morales-Mora Minister of the Presidency said "Agreement with Social Security does not mean increases in salaries, new salary extras, or privileges," for public employees.

Regarding the tax reform, Morales-Mora said that the law had been applied to Social Security since December 2018.

According to the minister, there is a conflict in Social Security about the way extra payments are calculated in the salary. The agreement will be analyzed by a judge, who will determine how these additional payments will be applied.

On August 14th, Social Security reported that during the 8-day union strike, 223,762 medical appointments were scheduled, of which only 140,890 were completed. Concerning to surgeries, 3,341 procedures were scheduled, of which only 1,677 were performed.

In April, the Court gave Social Security 6-months to reduce patient waiting lists in hospitals.

The Constitutional Court Chamber ordered Social Security to design, in a maximum of six months, an integrated management system to reduce the "disproportionate and unreasonable deadlines that the patient should expect to receive care in hospitals," said the ruling.

The problem is that it represents a systematic and repeated violation of the right to health, said the Court.

To follow up on compliance with this ruling, the Constitutional Chamber set a public hearing for November 14th, in the Supreme Court of Justice. On that day, the authorities of Social Security must present the advances and actions developed.

Should the government create a decree that eliminates extra payments to Social Security employees, or should that decision be made by a judge? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

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