The conflict over salary increases that has been taking place between the teachers’ unions and provincial administrations throughout the country continues at full steam. And, at least for now, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. The situation is especially severe in the Buenos Aires Province — which houses 40 percent of the public school teachers and students — where unions decided not to hold classes on six out of the seven schooldays in the year so far. And unless things change drastically in the next couple of hours, they also intend to strike tomorrow and on Thursday.
The María Eugenia Vidal administration called unions to a new round of negotiations today in the Ministry of Economy, but their representatives have already anticipated that they won’t attend. They intend to join the national strike called by the country’s largest union, Ctera, for the next two days, and march on Thursday to the provincial administration’s offices, demanding the national government hold wage negotiations at a national level. National unions are also planning to strike next week, on March 21 and 22.
Suteba union leader María Laura Torre told press yesterday that the Macri administration alone can solve the conflict: “if the national government doesn’t intervene, as they have done in previous years, solving the situation will be extremely difficult,” she said.
Last Friday, the Vidal administration offered a 19 percent salary increase with a one-time bonus of AR $500 to be given to each teacher, plus an additional bonus in March between AR $1,500 and AR $3,750, depending on their positions. The offer was rejected instantly, and they demanded that the government bettered the offer. This, however, will prove to be a more than difficult task, considering that Vidal herself published a letter last weekend on Facebook saying that the Province “is broke, and that’s not figurative speech.”
According to press, the Vidal administration is considering sending the children affected by the strikes to school during winter recess to compensate for the schooldays they are missing out on now.
When commenting on how many teachers have joined the protests, the provincial government and the unions have also given different numbers. While the former claims that half of all public school teachers didn’t show up in schools yesterday, the latter have assured the press that the number was actually over 80 percent.