Teachers from Mexico's militant CNTE union occupied almost 90 municipal buildings for several hours to demand the federal government start negotiating an education reform they have protested against since 2013, La Jornada reported Wednesday.
In San Cristobal de Las Casas in the state of Chiapas, protesting teachers temporarily detained five city councilors sent by the mayor in a bid to negotiate, CNTE union leader Manuel de Jesus Mendoza Vazquez said.
The councillors were released when the teachers ended their protest at 3 p.m. local time, but only after making the politicians hold banners reading “Total Support For Teachers.”
At the same time in the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Tabasco, teachers marched to defend their labor rights, while others tried to block strategic roads until they were evicted by the federal and state police using tear gas.
WATCH: Mexico: Police Have Violently Repressed Teacher Protests
Teacher evaluations were among the central points of the controversial law presented by conservative President Enrique Peña Nieto. Approximately 600 teachers filed a lawsuit in Acapulco against the procedure, CNTE spokesperson Walter Emanuel Anorve stated.
The teacher argue the tests do not measure teaching skills and do not take into account the special knowledge needed to teach in rural areas and Indigenous communities.
They also say the law is designed to allow for mass layoffs. On May 20, the government fired 3,360 teachers who did not undergo the evaluation as a protest against the reform.
Teachers are demanding to meet Education Minister Aurelio Nuño in order to present alternatives to the reform. However, union leaders say the government has rejected any meeting so far and has instead sent federal police.
For his part Nuño said he will not hold talks unless teachers accept the reform—an ultimatum that has angered the 100,000 members of the CNTE and thousands of affiliated teachers across the country.
The teachers have promised a show of strength on Friday.
For decades, teachers in Mexico have staged a number of protests—mostly in the impoverished and violent southeast states of Oaxaca, Michoacan, Guerrero and Chiapas—occupying public spaces for months as part of demands for better salaries and working conditions.