The Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode) announced Wednesday, in the context of nationwide protests led by public university students, professors, and directors who are demanding an increase in their budget, that they will also go on strike.
“To our students, tomorrow we will define the start of the teachers’ strike. Tomorrow there will be class as usual. Once the National Board defines the date and characteristics we will inform you,” Fecode tweeted Wednesday.
Fecode’s announcement was a measure against Bill 057 discussed in Congress, which according to the education union would reduce the budget for public schools, especially in rural areas.
“The way the transfers are stipulated there they will jeopardize territorial entities, like education secretariats … and their programs,” Alexander Gomez, a union leader argued.
It would “affect labor rights, pensions, and services to which teachers are entitled,” Nelson Alarcon, head of Fecode said.
Shortly after the announcement, Fecode celebrated Congress' withdrawal of the bill. “The announcement of the Fecode’s national strike achieved the withdrawal of Bill 057 in Congress,” their official Twitter account stated.
This will not mean a suspension of the strike. “Education still needs resources,” Fecode said.
“We ratify our commitment and call on the country’s teachers to continue the fight to prepare the mobilizations and strikes that will be summoned because the fulfillment of the agreements signed last year is still pending,” Alarcon said.
Teachers are also demanding the fulfillment of the agreements signed between the state and the union on Jun. 16, 2017. According to the federation, only eight of the commitments have been met. The others, including an increase in the education budget, elimination of pay gaps, and improvements in their health services and the national fund for social services have not been addressed.
They have also demanded better security measures for teachers in rural areas who are facing threats and attacks by paramilitary forces.
This would be the fifth strike by public educators this year alone. Three took place during the government of Juan Manuel Santos and this would be the second during the government of Ivan Duque.