In the San Luis Province, Cuyo Region, in central-western Argentina, teachers have been staging a strike and holding mass rallies for five consecutive weeks. Their actions enjoy the support of 90% of the profession.
In the absence of any meaningful response by the San Luis authorities to the teachers' demands, the General Secretary of the Argentine Confederation of Education Workers (CTERA), Stella Maldonado, travelled to the province to request an urgent meeting with its Governor, Mr Alberto Rodríguez Saa, as well as with the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Education.
Maldonado recently stated that that this year CTERA "must fight for a new Education Funding Law-the one currently in force will expire in the course of 2010- which provides for increased public investment to ensure quality education for all, with decent salaries and an adequate teaching and learning environment for teachers and pupils alike."
Among other demands, teachers are asking for their basic monthly salary to be increased from the current level of 715 pesos to 1,140 pesos, as well as for a pay adjustment for teachers working in rural areas, who at present earn the same amount as teachers working in the capital.
"There is no money for education, but somehow money is found to commission a sculpture worth 37 million pesos or to build a replica of the Cabildo [museum – in Buenos Aires – which used to house the government in the colonial period] in record time," remarked Sonia Reymond, leader of the San Luis Association of State Teachers (ASDE), which is affiliated to CTERA.
The dispute has spread to Patagonia, in south-eastern Argentina. In the town of Neuquén, representatives of the local union, ATEN, were received by the Secretary of State for Education, Ernesto Seguel. So far, the Provincial Government has only offered a 5% basic pay rise, which the union has rejected as being inadequate. ATEN has decided to continue the protest and has called a further three-day strike on 14, 15 and 16 April, in the hope that an agreement can be reached through collective bargaining.
In Río Negro, teachers are poised to take strike action over the continuing delay – on the part of the Provincial Government – in the payment of salaries. As yet, no date has been set for payment of the salaries due for the month of March. The local Education Workers' Union (UnTER) has consequently convened a Special Congress for 12 April to discuss the use of direct action strategies.