Education International
Education International

Brazil: Teachers strike over low pay

published 14 March 2012 updated 19 March 2012

Public school teachers in Brazil have joined a national strike from 14-16 March. EI’s affiliate, Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Educação (CNTE), is coordinating the nationwide movement aiming at achieving two key demands.

The first aim is the implementation of the national minimum wage for education workers. This was agreed in 2008 by Lula da Silva’s government through a federal law ( Lei Nacional do Piso do Magistério). However, it has never been applied at state and municipal level. According to the CNTE, teachers from at least 17 states in Brazil are underpaid, sometimes receiving up to two-thirds of the agreed minimum wage.

Increase investment

The second aim is to increase investment in education to 10% of GDP, as well as getting the approval of the new National Plan of Education. The plan was drafted in 2010, with trade unions’ involvement, to help enhance quality and equality of access to education.

“We will not leave state governors and majors in peace while this law of minimum wage is not being obeyed in its entirety,” said CNTE President Roberto Leão, expressing trade unions’ determination to continue their struggle for fair pay and decent working conditions for teachers.

Universal access

An open letter from CNTE to Brazilian society on the industrial action states: “This strike will mark the beginning of a series of actions that aim to promote universal access to good quality, secular public education that fosters equity. We stand for the enhancement of the teaching profession.”

It concludes: “We will take legal action against state governors and mayors who do not respect the law concerning a national minimum wage for education workers. We shall take legal measures at the national level and are also willing to resort to presenting a formal complaint to the International Labour Organisation and other relevant international institutions.”

EI stands in solidarity with Brazilian teachers in their struggle to achieve decent work conditions and enhance the status of teachers and teaching.