Unions Network International
UNI solidarity mission urges Costa Rica to reject the proposed Free Trade Agreement
Francisco Hernandez Juarez, UNI Telecom Americas President, told the Minister of Labour and Deputies from the Costa Rica National Assembly today, that the country should look to lessons from other free trade agreements, including from his country Mexico, where poverty had not decreased and the minimum wage was in effect lower than before the 43 trade agreements signed by Mexico. He said that Costa Rica should reject the proposed CAFTAT free trade agreement and concentrate on finding ways to better invest on infrastructure and to reshape the local economy and to respect workers as an integral part of society contributing huge amounts to it’s success. Rodolfo Benitez, UNI Americas Regional Director, leading the UNI Mission, told the Deputies that UNI’s experience in the Americas was that these agreements led to other changes not in the interests of workers and telecom consumers, such as the privatisation of industries and the outflowing of capital from the country.
Neil Anderson, Head Of UNI Telecom urged the National Assembly to look closer at what had happened in many countries,m including his own home country New Zealand, where telecom services had virtually collapsed to third world status and prices had not decreased as expected so that now a package of telecom services was so expensive that New Zealand was now ranked amongst the most expensive country for these services in the OECD.
The UNI mission will be in Costa Rica until the end of the week and has met with a range of Costa Rican unions, the local office of the ILO, the National Assembly and will meet with other pressure groups and academics studying the proposed agreement which will be subject to a citizens referendum on 7 October. The delegation has been supporting the unions "NO" campaign and urging Costa Ricans to give the thumbs down to what they see is essentially a flawed proposal.