Teachers reject the loss of purchasing power brought about by President Mauricio Macri's neoliberal policies.
Argentine teachers started Wednesday a 72-hour national strike to demand wage increases in order to improve their incomes, which have been severely affected by a 47.6 annual cumulative inflation rate since 2018.
"In the last two years, food basket cumulative prices hiked by 84.2 percent, while increases in teachers’ initial salary only reached 40.2 percent," the Marina Vilte Institute noted and emphasized that "while teachers’ initial salary is only US$309, a typical Argentinean family needs more than US$644 not to be considered poor, according to official data."
This national strike, which is the teachers’ response to the failure of prior negotiations with government officials, will include a march to the Plaza de Mayo in which will also see the participation of judicial employees, doctors and other public servants who also demand better salaries, permanent contracts, and reincorporation of dismissed employees.
The Buenos Aires Province government, which is headed by right-wing politician Maria Eugenia Vidal, announced that striking teachers will not receive their salary during demonstrations.
Previously, the provincial government offered their teachers a salary increase equivalent to the current inflation rate plus 5 percent, although such an increase will be paid in Jan. 2020. No offer was made to recover the purchasing power lost during 2018.
“The Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (APDH) expresses its support for the Teachers’ National Strike convened for Mar. 6 and 7.” In the photo a demonstrator holds a sign saying “Fewer arms, more education. When one reads little, one shoots a lot."
"We reject the provincial government’s salary increase proposal because, besides blurring our salary scales, it does not take into account the 2018 purchasing power losses," Roberto Baradel, secretary general of the Buenos Aires Teachers Front (Suteba), indicated and added that the Vidal administration "consolidates the purchasing power loss that teachers already had."
Sonia Alesso, secretary general of Confederation of Workers of Education (CTERA), said the economic crisis is damaging education quality in Argentina. "Today, most teachers do not have salaries that allow them to acquire a basic food basket," Alesso denounced and warned that austerity measures "are generating poor school circuits for the poor and rich schools circuits for the rich. "
In 2018, President Mauricio Macri suppressed the negotiating process spaces where unions and government officials discussed regularly key issues such as teachers' minimum salaries, training programs, federal support to education in poor provinces, measures aimed at preventing school failure and other issues related to the education system.