Teachers and gov’t to discuss wage hikes as tensions rise
CTERA union permitted to set up tent in front of Congress days after their violent removal
After tensions were raised between the Let’s Change administration and teachers unions over the violent removal of their members from Congress square, to which they responded with a subsequent strike on Tuesay, Buenos Aires province Governor María Eugenia Vidal announced they would hold a meeting to discuss salary negotiations this Monday.
The Teachers’ Union Front of Buenos Aires province, composed of Suteba, Feb, Udocba, Sadop, Amet and UDA unions had urgently demanded a meeting with Vidal highlighting how the 18-19 percent pay hikes offered by the government would force many teachers under the poverty line. “Vidal doesn’t want to comprehend nor recognise, that without recovering our loss of purchasing-purchasing power from 2016, us teachers would be negotiating salaries at a loss,” states the Teachers’ Funion press release.
They stressed that the inflation estimates the government had used for their 2016 and 2017 wage hike proposals deviated from the real inflation rate. In 2016, President Mauricio Macri’s administration estimated that annual inflation would be between 20 and 25 percent, when it was actually 41 percent annually. “For this year the inflation they (the government) projected for the wage hikes were 12 and 17 percent, meanwhile annual inflation for 2017 is estimated to be more than 25 percent,” said the press release.
On the other hand, the teacher’s front also requested the government not to dock the days they had striked from their paycheque, criticising the penalty as “illegal, arbitrary and improper.” The teachers also requested an increase to the budget for infrastructure projects, cafeterias, teacher positions and training, amongst other demands.
CTERA inaugurates Public school protest tent
The CTERA union officially inaugurated a tent in the form of a public school yesterday, where they will continue their demand for national collective bargaining that Macri’s government has continued to deny them. During the weekend, there will be classes, talks and artistic activities. Last Sunday, the Buenos Aires City police violently removed the teachers when they tried to build the structure but the city government finally authorised the structure last Tuesday.
Various high-ranking Let’s Change government officials had defended the police actions. Justice Minister Germán Garavano said that they had removed the union members because they didn’t have “the necessary authorisation,” and Buenos Aires City Deputy Mayor Diego Santilli said that the “police had acted in a defensive way when confronting a small group that provoked and pushed them.” However, the president had reserved some of the harshest criticism for the teachers. “The teachers unions instead of giving an example and doing their duty, are violating regulations, and in reaction to violating these regulations, they hold a strike,” said Macri.