The Director General of the International Labour Organisation, Guy Ryder, visited Costa Rica this week at a critical time for the long-awaited reforms to the Labour Code. In 2012, President Laura Chinchilla had vetoed a package of reforms that had been approved by a large majority of members of the Parliament.
Discussions, led by the President's office, have been under way for several months with employers and trade unions over the package of measures to be sent back to the Parliament. In some cases these are measures that successive Costa Rican governments have been promising the ILO since the late 1990s.
Trade unions took the opportunity of the first visit in over 20 years by an ILO chief to hand over a letter setting out the main areas of non-conformity with ILO standards to which the Government has signed up and which are de facto international law. The main problem areas highlighted in the letter are :
- The slowness and inefficiency of the sanction and reinstatement procedures in the case of anti-union practices ;
- Restrictions to collective bargaining rights in the public sector arising from rulings in the Constitutional and Supreme Courts ;
- The hugely disproportionate number of « direct settlements » with non-unionised workers compared to the number of collective bargaining agreements;
- Unreasonable restrictions on the right to strike ;
- Non-eligibility of foreign workers to be elected to trade union executive committees.
Concerns that the labour reform package of legislation has still not been approved also led a group of Members of the European Parliament to write to the Costa Rican government last month.
The ILO Director General went on to meet the President of the Dominican Republic.
You can read the letter to ILO Director General and from MEPs bellow (in Spanish).