(Photo via Telam)

The beginning of the school year in the Buenos Aires province is at risk as the teachers unions grouped within the Frente de Unidad Docente (FUD) rejected the latest offer from María Eugenia Vidal’s administration.

In this case, the provincial government authorities offered 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, it also 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.

The FUD rejected the proposal. Union leader Mirta Petrocini said that “so far, the three proposals made by the Vidal administration, three days from the beginning of the school year, were exactly the same.” “They don’t cover the urgent need to restore the salary’s purchasing power to previous levels,” she added.

Teachers argue that the 15 percent offered is lower than even the government’s own inflationary estimates – the lastest, 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. The FUD will decide today whether to call a strike for next week.

However, head of SUTEBA union Roberto Baradel, one of the most combative leaders, has already anticipated his opinion that there should not be classes on Monday and Tuesday because the unions grouping non-teacher school personnel announced a strike for those days. “You can’t open schools without the staff that keeps them clean,” he said.

Some unions grouping Buenos Aires City teachers have already announced strikes for Monday and Tuesday, after rejecting the latest offer from the Rodríguez Larreta administration.

So far, only four of the country’s 24 jurisdictions have ensured the beginning of their respective school years.