Photo via Perfil

After approximately five months of failed negotiations and 17 strikes, the teachers’ unions in the Buenos Aires Province and the María Eugenia Vidal administration are close to reaching an agreement regarding their salary increase for this year.

After yesterday’s meeting, union representatives said that this time the administration made them an “improved offer.” And taking a look at it, it’s clear that the provincial government did compromise on certain aspects of the negotiation it had been refusing to during this past months.

The offer consists in a 2.5 percent increase to compensate for the purchasing power their salaries lost last year, plus 21.5 percent for this year, which will be given to them in two installments: one in April — it was supposed to be then, but it will now be in the moment they sign — and the other one in September. Moreover, this increase also includes a so-called “trigger clause” which, as its name indicates, will trigger if the year’s inflation rate is higher than the mentioned number.

The Vidal administration also offered to not deduct two out of every three striking days they conducted during this time from the teachers’ salaries, a sum which, according to the unions, is between AR$ 1,000 and AR$ 1,500. To these clauses, the national Education Ministry added a AR$ 1,600 bonus for “didactic material,” to be paid in two installments. This bonus will be sent to all jurisdictions, not only the province, but the unions still took it into account at the time of analyzing the offer.

Following the meeting, leader of Suteba union Roberto Baradel told Clarín that “this last proposal shows that the province did have resources and decided to extend this conflict. Until today, they had made the decision to confront with us, but now that has changed.”

“I don’t want to anticipate what the teachers’ position will be, because everything will be decided in an assembly. We will explain to the attendants the details of this proposal of a 27.4 percent increase, which also takes out several clauses the province wanted to include, such as a bonus for attendance and agreements for 2018 and 2019. They also included improvements for pensioners,” Baradel added.

We’ll now have to wait until Tuesday, but considering the sizable increase in the government’s offer and the abrupt change in rhetoric from the unions, it would be quite strange if this conflict is not put to bed. Until it starts all over again next year, of course.