Teachers’ representatives from the province of Buenos Aires rejected a new offer for salary increase made by Province Governor Daniel Scioli, in a climate of mounting criticisms around President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s speech on public education reform yesterday.
Provincial teachers’ unions rejected Scioli’s offer for a rise in base salary from 2,400 to $2,860 from 1st of March. The teachers, represented by 17 local unions, are asking for a 29% raise in salary with a $3,100 base. If negotiations are still carried on for the province of Buenos Aires, the city seems to have already sorted this issue out and classes have started without stikes this week.
On a smaller local scale, in fact, Buenos Aires Education Minister Esteban Bullrich reached an agreement with trade unions over a 23% pay rise for capital’s teachers during previous negotiations. His initial offer of an annual increase of 17.6% was turned down by unions.
Furthermore, all the main teachers’ trade unions attacked the President for her speech at the opening of the 130th legislative year yesterday, saying that they were clearly “denying reality.” During her speech in Congress, President Fernández asked people to reflect on the fact that “teachers are working for hours a day and enjoying three months of vacation […] they are stuck in another country’s logic.”
Mirta Petroccini, the head of the largest union in the province, the Federation of Buenos Aires Educators (FEB) said “we feel a mixture of grief and anger [for the president’s words]. They hurt,” after leaving another failed meeting with the governor of Buenos Aires Province, Daniel Scioli.
Petroccini also challenged criticisms about absenteeism rate among teachers, saying, “The main causes for absenteeism are related to post-traumatic stress, caused by the circumstances in which we have to carry out our jobs.”
Like other social services, the budget for education has one of the highest levels of under-execution. The money is assigned in the budget but it is not being spent. According to a report by the City Ombudsman in June 2011, the yearly budget execution for schools’ infrastructure has been consistently under 50% between 2007 and 2010
The main umbrella unions’ association, the CGT, headed by former leader of the camioneros, Hugo Moyano, backs Province of Buenos Aires teachers’ demands. A national teachers strike is scheduled for March 6.