The Argentinian government and CTERA, a member organisation of Education International, have signed an important collective agreement aimed at restructuring work in education during the lockdown and combating the work overload imposed by teleworking.
The agreement sets out the first-ever defined concept of the right to disconnect, and it requires the Ministry of Education to invest in providing technological resources for distance education. Education Minister Trotta announced the inclusion of education workers in the relaunch of the Conectar Igualdad(Connect Equality) Plan. Argentina's national bank will open a line of credit for education workers so that they can buy computers and technological equipment.
It is important to recognise the profound impact the move to teleworking has had on working hours, opportunities for rest, and respect for the privacy of education workers.
The collective agreement was signed via videoconference by Nicolás Trotta, Argentina's Minister of Education, Sonia Alesso, General Secretary of CTERA, and Roberto Baradel, Deputy Secretary. The agreement is cosigned by SADOP, a private education workers' union.
The main elements of the agreement:
- It formally recognises all work carried out during quarantine as “teaching work in a virtual, off-site context delivered in environments that are not part of the education system”.
- It calls for ensuring that "working hours equivalent to the hourly load that characterises the position" are respected without overburdening education workers due to the extraordinary nature of these circumstances.
- It acknowledges the “right to maintain personal and family privacy and to rest” with regard to working hours.
- There is no allowance for any detrimental change to previously agreed compensation, and the validity of licence agreements will be guaranteed.
- The document highlights the need to reorganise management and supervision tasks in such a way that administrative burdens do not take time away from the development and delivery of educational content.
- It guarantees workplace health and safety coverage in case of accident or illness.
- It includes the right to disconnect.
- It broadens teacher training activities with the help of trade unions.
The agreement is effective immediately and for a temporary period, in response to the challenges to education posed by the COVID-19 crisis.
Furthermore, an additional meeting between the Ministry and the trade unions will be held within 30 days of the signing to assess the implementation of the agreement.
The next step CTERA has proposed to school authorities is to convene a technical committee on wages to discuss much needed raises, given the effects of the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic.