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Costa Rica’s law to regulate strikes jeopardises freedom of association and peaceful assembly

Association and Peaceful Assembly

On 14th January 2020, Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly approved Draft Bill 21.049 to regulate strikes and their procedures. As previously reported on the Monitor, this strict legislation may overly limit freedom of association and peaceful assembly in Costa Rica. The legislation was introduced after nationwide demonstrations against fiscal reform took place in 2018 and, according to legislators, the objective is to curb abuses in the implementation of strikes. With the approved bill, only three types of strikes will be legal:

  1. Strikes for the defence and promotion of economic and social interests.
  2. Strikes defending rights in collective legal disputes as defined in article 386 of the Labour Code.
  3. One-time strikes against public policies, for a maximum period of 48 hours.

Several sectors deemed “essential” are banned from striking, including health and security workers. So-called political strikes, that is, strikes where there is no employment relationship or labour breaches, will be considered illegal. Unions protested against the legislation and leaders urged supporters to vote out, in the next elections, the legislators who approved the bill.

The law (Law Nº 9808) was sanctioned by President Carlos Alvarado on 20th January 2020.