BUENOS AIRES – Teachers in the Argentine capital launched a 48-hour strike Wednesday for higher pay and to show support for students who have seized control of schools to demand repairs to decaying facilities.
The walkout comes as Buenos Aires is hosting the Ibero-American Conference of Education Ministers.
The teachers want “the immediate resolution of the problems in the buildings, the creation of new schools, the payment of salaries on time” and the establishment of a career ladder in the municipal system, unions said in a statement.
Another demand is for the resignation of municipal officials who asked high school principals to provides lists of students involved in the occupations with an eye toward having them arrested, a plan that was derailed last week when student associations won a court injunction.
The teachers strike includes street protests and “public classes” in front of Buenos Aires’ old city hall, located just across the Plaza de Mayo from the presidential palace.
Student occupations at high schools began three weeks ago and have inspired a similar protest at the state-funded University of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s biggest institution of higher learning.
Wednesday’s strike is the 28th walkout staged by municipal teachers against the administration of Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri, a right-wing tycoon with presidential ambitions and a leader of opposition to President Cristina Fernandez, who has expressed support for the protesting students.
“The teachers’ strike is political,” municipal Education Secretary Esteban Bullrich said, attributing the same motivation to the student occupations.
Macri says he has initiated a plan to make up for the neglect of the schools by previous mayors.
The teachers unions are seeking an increase in base pay from 1,900 to 2,200 pesos ($475-$550) per month, and a hike of roughly $125 for those on higher levels of the salary scale.
The teachers and students plan to join forces Thursday night for a march to mark the 34th anniversary of what is known as “the Night of the Pencils,” a crackdown by the 1976-1983 military regime on students who had been protesting to demand free passage on public transportation.
Seven of those students were abducted and tortured. Only one survived to recount his experiences. EFE