Teachers in Argentina‘s Buenos Aires province are going on strike Thursday, shutting down more than 40 streets in a massive protest to demand a 24 percent raise.
Buenos Aires Strikes Again: State Workers Protest April 5
Public school teachers and administrators are taking industrial action alongside their colleagues from private education institutions.
The Buenos Aires subway and other public institutions are also closing to demand higher salaries and an end to the massive public sector lay-offs conducted over the past year by neoliberal Mauricio Macri‘s administration and aligned Congress.
"We’re creating a resistance that was strong during our Feb. 21, March 8 and 24 marches," said Union of Education Workers (UTE) Leader Eduardo Lopez.
The March 8 event amassed some 400,000 people in Buenos Aires demonstrating against Macri’s strict enforcement of IMF austerity measure suggestions, including frequent and massive lay-offs and cuts to social programs.
During the first two days of the Argentine school year – March 5 and 6 – a flurry of education unions also boycotted school, calling for the government to increase its 15 percent salary increase offer of about US$40 more per month – to 24 percent.
They also want the government to agree that wages will keep pace with the inflation rate, which has hovered at 25 percent for nearly a year.
"We have to break the ceiling in this city that it is the richest district," Lopez told a press conference. "Other provinces and cities have broken through." He also noted that the March 5 and 6 teacher strikes resulted in a 40 percent wage increase in other regions of Argentina.
Subway union Metrodelegados has said it will protest because the national chamber of commerce recently annulled the union. "We don’t want to take strong action, but the reality is we’re being burdened," said Roberto Pianelli, Metrodelegados’ leader. "We have no other alternative than exhaust these measures to defend workers."
Judicial and health unions are also set to strike April 5. "The 12 percent that (the government) offered makes it difficult get to the end of the month: it’s hard not to be poor in a city with a budget for the rich," said Daniel Catalano, leader of the Buenos Aires section of the ATE (Association of State Workers).
Joining the strike will be teachers from the Vialidad Technical School who are demanding their pay, which they haven’t received in three months.
"The city will be in chaos," said Rafael Klejzer of the CTEP (Popular Economy Confederation of Workers).