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Attorney General Takes Action To Declare Strike By Judicial Workers Illegal

Workers of Poder Judicial across the country, that includes prosecutors and judges, continued their strike this week.

The Juzgado de Trabajo de Pococí (Labor Court) in Limon, is getting the proverbial ‘hot potato’, to deal with the striking workers of the Poder Judicial (the Judiciary).

But why in Pococi? The Labor Procedural Reform establishes that an employer can apply for classification in any labor court in the country. In the case of San José, the Labor Court is on strike, so the Procuraduría General de la República (Attorney General) had to search outside the capital for a court that was working.

Thus, on Friday, the Attorney General’s office filed a petition to declare the strike illegal, following the initiative of the President of the Supreme Court, Carlos Chinchilla.

With the filing, it will now be up to a judge in the Pococi court to decide if the strike is legal, to the contrary, force the workers of the judiciary back to work.

The worker’s union says it will continue the strike action despite a filing by the Attorney General to declare the strike illegal. Photo downtown San Jose courthouse.

For the strike to be legal, among other requirements, the suspension by the workers is peaceful, that there was a previous conciliation with the employer the strike, that the workers fight for interests social or legal and that do not affect essential services. A breach of these or any other requirement may declare the stop work action illegal.

“We need to think first about the Costa Rican citizen, about the people who need access to justice and somehow have been denied such, and more significantly with the issue of Forensic Medicine, where it was a very hard blow. To the people affected, I am very sorry that the autopsies were not done, nor was the return of bodies,” Chinchilla said in a news conference.

The judicial workers are on strike since Wednesday, July 19, in opposition to the proposal by the Superintendent of Pensions (Supen) to cap their pensions to less than ¢4 million colones and raise the retirement age of judicial employees from 60 to 65.

In addition, they (the judicial workers) are protesting against the Legislative Commission of Pensions that did not include the recommendations of their guild in the proposed changes.

Marcela Guerrero, a member of the legislative commission, assures that they will not give in to pressure of the striking workers.

On Wednesday last, union leaders met with Legislative members to resolve the issue, however, no consensus was reached and the strike action remains open ended.

The Frente Gremial del Poder Judicial reported that the strike will continue, even though the process has begun to be declared illegal and although on Thursday the deputies agreed on a new reform bill.