Costa Rica: Fight against austerity continues after 16 days of strike

25 September 2018 16:12

Striking workers on 10 September, the first day of the national strike. 

Workers from all over Costa Rica are on an indefinite strike against fiscal reform that will hit workers and their families the most.

The law expects to collect about 1.9 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) through a large-scale tax reform. The unions have rejected the proposed law claiming that it will impoverish workers instead of targeting the real tax evaders who are responsible for the fiscal deficit of the country. This is also the conclusion of a study carried out by the Trade Union Unity Committee in Costa Rica.

The Trade Union Unity Committee has instead presented a proposal for a fiscal reform based on progressive and redistributive measures to Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado. However, the government has rejected the unions’ proposals.

The strike which is in its 16th day has affected a number of sectors including health, education, fuel supply, and transport through blockades of major roads throughout the country. The Church has begun to serve as a mediator to resolve the conflict. Unfortunately, after two meetings held on September 19 and 20, the parties have not been able to reach an agreement. Given this situation, the Costa Rican trade union movement has decided to continue the strike.

The so called “Fiscal Combo" includes changes such as an increase in the VAT and income taxes from 13 to 16 per cent, decrease in salaries and other benefits for public employees, freezing of public expenditures, elimination of the basic basket exemption, increased tax on already expensive medicines as well as stopping to finance a series of social programs, such as housing projects.

The Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) supports the unified struggle of its affiliates and the Costa Rican workers for a fair and solidarity-based distribution of taxes in the country.

"If there is no justice for the people, there is no peace for the government"