Early this month, a sustained movement by the teachers of Chubut Province in Patagonian Argentina finally paid off. The teachers had been struggling for the past four months, demanding an increase of at least 15% in their salaries. On July 3, the teachers called for another national strike and marched towards the Ministry of Education in Buenos Aires demanding better salaries and opposing the police repression against teachers in the province of Chubut.
After more than 100 days of struggle over salaries in Chubut, teachers’ unions and the government of Mariano Arcioni [the governor of the province] came to an agreement. The unions agreed to lift the occupations of public buildings and the government agreed to increase their initial basic salary, and also not deduct any money for the days they went on strike.
Classes will resume in school after the winter break. Over the past four months, during the strike, the teachers had occupied various state education buildings and set up a ‘Camp of Union Unity’ in front of the government palace, notwithstanding low winter temperatures.
The teachers managed to obtain a rise of 1,350 pesos to the initial basic salary. The basic salary will be updated in the months of September and December according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of Patagonia.
The provincial government promised to repair school buildings and implement free school transportation facility. Meanwhile, the teachers committed to suspend all measures involving force and to readjust the contents for the rest of the academic year according to number of non-working days.
However, the unions noted that the proposal was “insufficient” as it failed to make up for the loss of purchasing power suffered during the last year, given that the teachers of Chubut had received no increase since May 2017.
The Association of Education Workers of Chubut (ATECh) highlighted that the proposal was accepted by the majority, but the rise in basic salary did not match the decline in real salary.
The Argentine Union of Private Teachers (SADOP) explained that they had accepted the official offer but it had to be taken into account that the private sector was the one which suffered the most from high inflation rates because the average salary of those in that sector was less than that of public establishments.
“ATECh’s fight in defense of salaries and working conditions of teachers is part of the historical struggles of the workers’ movement against the structural adjustment and hunger policies of the neoliberal governments” said a statement by the Confederation of Education Workers of the Republic of Argentina (CTERA).