Photo: Laura Cano, Telam

As the conflict between teachers’ unions and the Buenos Aires provincial government enters its third week, both parties met yesterday to discuss this year’s salary increases, but failed to reach an agreement yet again.

However, the fact that the meeting took place at all is a big step forward, considering that teachers had refused to even attend the previous meeting María Eugenia Vidal’s administration asked for on Monday. “The provincial government had another attitude,” union representatives told press when leaving the premises.

Even though they didn’t manage to put the conflict to bed, both parties started to lower their guards enough to get back to the table, and the middle ground seems to at least be somewhat agreed upon.

“The government realized it couldn’t keep on insisting with the measly proposal [they were offering],” declared the representatives from the nine teachers unions who attended the meeting. On Friday, teachers rejected an offer stipulating a 19 percent increase — closer to the government’s projected 17 percent inflation for the year — plus a one time bonus compensating the for the loss in purchasing power connected with salaries last year.

In contrast, Teachers are demanding a 25 to 30 percent salary increase, arguing that this year’s inflation will be actually closer to that number. They also say the bonus is not enough to compensate for their salaries’ loss of purchasing power from last year, which they claim came in at 14 percent.

This was the first step closer towards an agreement, after a multiple days of both parties fighting fire with fire. Teachers in the Buenos Aires Province have been on strike 11 of this the total 12 schooldays that took place this year. The Vidal administration, on its end, announced that it will deduct days from the salaries of teachers participating in the strike — despite a court ruling that determined this was not legally sound —and gave a AR $1,000 bonus to the teachers who did go to school. The conflict is far from over, and kids won’t have class tomorrow either. But maybe this was the first step on the long road back to class.