While the majority of public school teachers protest in the streets, in front of the legislative assembly and take part in blockades across the country, the Ministerio de Educación Pública (MEP) has learned of at least one case of a teacher who took advantage of the strike vacation with her family in Cancun, Mexico.

The Ministry of Education plans to determine if any teacher, who did not have a vacation, left the country after September 10, the day on which the strike began. In the photo, the Rofas building that houses the central offices of the MEP.

MEP officials are sure that the case is not unique.

To detect the others, the MEP will be crossing the teachers’ bases with data from the immigration service, informed the Minister of Education, Édgar Mora.

With the measure, the MEP aims to establish whether a teacher on strike left the country after September 10, the day on which the protest against the tax reform began.

In Costa Rica, public sector employees during a legal strike have the right to the benefit of their entire salary. In the case of the MEP, it pays out an average of ¢3 billion colones in salaries to teachers and other employees that have not been at work for more than 30 days.

Despite the Labor Court on Tuesday declaring the teachers’ strike illegal, this morning more than 70% of teachers have not returned to work, heeding to the call by their unions to continue the strike until and if the illegality is confirmed. That is the Labor Court decision has gone through all the notification and appeal processes.

Last week, the MEP announced the case of a teacher from the Buenaventura Corrales School in San José, who had left the country during the strike. The complaint, filed by a mother of one of the students at the school, is being studied by the Disciplinary Management Department of the Human Resources Directorate of the Ministry of Public Education (MEP).

The MEP verified that the teacher left the country on Friday, September 28  and returned on Monday, October 1.

“Yes, there are more cases, this is not the only one. We are opening investigations (…),” said the Minister.

Lawyer Marco Durante, an expert in labor law, explained that when a person supports a strike movement called by their union or a group of employees, he/she enters into a collective and temporary suspension of the employment contract.

“If it can be verified that under the excuse of a strike a worker takes advantage and goes on vacation, that could eventually be understood as an absence to work that could be sanctioned even with dismissal without employer responsibility (severance),” he added.

According to Durante, the Labor Code establishes that a worker can be dismissed without severance if there is an unjustified absence of two consecutive days or three alternate days accumulated within a month.