SAN JOSE – Hundreds of striking teachers gathered Friday at Costa Rica’s presidential palace, where they were received by Education Minister Sonia Marta Mora as new head of state Luis Guillermo Solis sought to set a different tone.
Teachers have hopes they will fare better with the new government and that the delays in being paid their salaries, which sparked the strike, will be resolved, the head of the ANDE union, Gilberto Cascante, told Efe.
“This time it’s very different, they allowed us to come right up to the doors of the presidential palace – not like other times when the cops wouldn’t let us near. Now we’re going to ask Luis Guillermo Solis for a quick fix to the problem,” Cascante said.
The new president, who was a university professor for 30 years, repeated Friday his solidarity with the teachers and gave assurances of “an open-door policy” for visits from different organizations.
The education minister met with 18 members of teachers’ unions in the presidential palace.
Mora told reporters before the meeting that she has a number of ideas for dealing with the problem and will present them to the unions.
At least 7,000 teachers – 10 percent of the total – have been affected by delays in issuing paychecks, according to their unions.
The problems are due to a transition to a new, more modern payroll system operated by the Finance Ministry, now-former Education Minister Leonardo Garnier said earlier this week, promising that the difficulties would be resolved by the middle of the month.