Photo via Telam

Teachers unions in the Buenos Aires Province rejected a new salary offer from the María Eugenia Vidal administration and began a new 48-hour strike, as the conflict is well into its fourth week.

The provincial government presented the following improvements in its offer:

  • Improved the annual salary increase from 18 to 19 percent.
  • Lowered the number of payments in which they would administer the raise from 4 to 3.

Moreover, it kept other aspects of the offer such as:

  • Offering a single sum of money to compensate the loss in purchasing power the teachers’ salaries suffered last year.
  • Use funds from the national government to pay salaries.
  • Commit to go back to negotiating if the year’s inflation rate is higher than the percentage of the teachers salary increase.

Moreover, the provincial government argued about the need to lower the high level of absenteeism among teachers — currently at 17 percent — explaining that this has a cost of AR $14.3 billion in substitutes. If teachers manage to lower the percentage by 10 percent, government representatives say, “the province would be able to increase their salaries by AR $5,000, and that’s without taking into account the offer we just made them.”

However, unions rejected the offer again, deemed it “insufficient.” In an interview with C5N TV channel, union leader Roberto Baradel said that the Vidal administration “presented the same offer they had the last time we met.”

“The government still refuses to change its attitude after three weeks of conflict.” As a result of this, he announced that besides the strike, teachers unions will “march to Plaza de Mayo along with other unions such as the CGT and the CTA.” “It’s not meant to destabilize anyone, but to get them to stop applying policies that are harming workers.”

Vidal, on her end, begged to differ. In a Facebook post, the governor said that unions “chose conflict over dialogue” and that “her administration presented six offers, each better than the last, taking into account what unions were asking.”

“We did all of this having explained that the province has no more resources. In order to improve every offer, we had to stop public works,” she wrote.

Vidal went on to say that despite all their effort, “the answer was always the same: rejection and then a call to strike.” “We believe in dialogue and we choose to keep on doing that. We’ll continue to prioritize the children and speaking the truth,” she finished.