Photo via Tigre al dia

An appeals court decided yesterday to temporarily exempt the government from holding wage negotiations with teachers unions at a national level, overturning the initial ruling that found that the Macri administration would have to open up national negotiations. The negotiation — or lack of it — will remain on hold until the appeal court issues a final ruling, something that could take a long time. The unions, however, announced that they will appeal the measure.

The legal sparing between both parties began in early April — coinciding with the massive teachers march — when first instance Judge Dora Temis upheld a request from a union (called UDA) to force the Macri administration to call a national wage negotiation.

The union argued that by not doing so, the government is breaking the “educational financing law,” which establishes (in article 10) that the national Education Ministry, along with the federal council of education and the five national teachers unions must produce a framework of an agreement every year that includes the minimum salary for teachers throughout the country. Taking that as a standpoint, then, the provincial unions would negotiate their yearly wages with their respective administrations.

The Macri administration, in contrast, has refused to hold national negotiations, arguing that it has already done so effectively by agreeing with unions that this year’s salaries have to be at least 20 percent higher than the national minimum wage.

The last teachers March. Photo via Politica Argentina
The last teachers March. Photo via Politica Argentina

Moreover, government authorities pointed out that since provincial administrations are the ones paying the salaries in the end, the teachers have to negotiate directly with them. The ruling is practically a death sentence for the unions’ intentions, as the court of appeals might take months to issue a final ruling.

By the time the ruling is out, most provincial teacher unions will likely have reached an agreement with the administrations. In fact, 11 out of the 24 jurisdictions in the country — some of the most populated ones like Córdoba, Santa Fe and Mendoza among them — have already done so, La Nación reports.

The main conflict is still taking place in the Buenos Aires Province, where the María Eugenia Vidal administration and the provincial unions, led by Roberto Baradel, continue failing to reach an agreement.

Those who side with the government posit that the union leader is unfairly keeping the conflict alive because he is running for leader of the national state workers union (ATE), and needs to show himself as tough on the government to increase his chances of winning. The unions, in contrast, argue that the salary offers are not enough to compensate for their salaries’ loss of purchasing power last year and to cope with this year’s inflation.

Yesterday, the UDA union informed that the court’s ruling will be appealed “because of its blatant illegality and arbitrary character.” They also called for a new federal education march, to take place on June 20.