(Photo via Noticias Argentinas/ Damián Dopacio)

The country’s largest teachers’ union voted yesterday to hold a 48-hour national strike starting on Monday, pushing back the start of classes after the summer break two days, as wage negotiations continue to drag on without without progress.

CTERA announced the strike yesterday after holding a special meeting ahead fo the start of classes scheduled for the 5th of March. Unions have  called for negotiations to take place at the national level – instead of at the provincial level as the Mauricio Macri administration prefers – and for the wage negotiations to not be capped.

Sonia Aleso, secretary-general of CTREA, claimed yesterday that some provinces had been under pressure to sign wage increases with teacher’s unions with a 15 percent cap, with the increases kicking in progressively over the next year.

The strike is further to the strike announced by Buenos Aires City teachers this week.

With more than 400,000 members across the country, a CTERA strike is sure to disrupt the start of classes. Alesso also confirmed that the union would be participating in the women’s strike on the 8th of March. Women make up a majority of the teachers.

Earlier this week unions rejected the Buenos Aires provincial offer of a 15 percent increase, to be paid in three installments throughout the year (same as before), but added a so-called “revision clause,” which would bring both parties back to the negotiation table in October if the official inflation rate surpasses the mentioned figure.

Moreover, the María Eugenia Vidal government offered quarterly bonuses for teachers who don’t miss class: this would amount to AR $6,000 for those who have perfect attendance in 2018, AR $4,500 for four absences or less, and AR $3,000 for those who have between five and eight. Teachers argue that the 15 percent offered is lower than even the government’s own inflationary estimates – the latest, published by the Central Bank (BCRA), is around 20 percent – and that bonuses for those who don’t miss classes could be harmful for teachers’ health.

Buenos Aires Province Economy Minister Hernán Lacunza speaks today about ongoing wage negotiations with teachers. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas / Pablo Lasansky)
Buenos Aires Province Economy Minister Hernán Lacunza speaks today about ongoing wage negotiations with teachers. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas / Pablo Lasansky)

 

Moments before the strike was confirmed, Buenos Aires provincial Economy Minister Hernán Lacunza said the government invited “the teachers to review their strike action for Monday. We can work on Saturday and Sunday to avoid strike action.” Lacunza said that the province offered a five percent increase to be set into motion immediately, counted against a future agreement and that their current offer would increase average salaries for teachers from 24,600 to 28,300 pesos.

The province of Buenos Aires is by far the largest employer of public school teachers in the country.