CARACAS – Elementary and high-school teachers will get a 30-percent pay hike and Venezuela’s government will move ahead to implement “socialist education,” Education Minister Héctor Navarro said on Tuesday.
“More than 500,000 educators will benefit from the new collective teachers’ contract, about which discussion ended last Friday,” the minister said, adding that among other clauses, it calls for “a wage increase of 30 percent, plus bonuses for professional qualifications and seniority.”
Navarro told the official VTV network that the document will be signed next week and that from May 1 wages will increase by 15 percent and an additional increase of the same percentage will be added on Sept 1.
Besides “decent” wages, the building of “a new country” requires “a constant effort by educators” since “the starting point for creating socialism is education,” Navarro said.
The president of the Sinafum teachers union, Orlando Pérez, confirmed Navarro’s words and said that the accord will also set “bonuses for transportation, health, professional expenses plus paying an amount of 460 bolivars ($214) for all teachers.”
The health minister will guarantee “free medicine for retired teachers who suffer chronic illness,” Pérez said, adding that with all the bonuses, the wage hike from September will add up to 42 percent.
The collective bargaining agreement was negotiated by Sinafum, the Venezuelan Teachers Federation (FVM) and the Educators Federation of Venezuela (FEV), and left out another seven unions that called a strike on March 25 rejecting it.
Those unions “are not legitimate, because they haven’t held elections to designate” their leaders, as the law requires for negotiating collective bargaining agreements, Navarro said.
Nelson González, president of Fetramagisterio, one of the unions that called the strike, called it a “national protest campaign” that also complained that “the employer-government” kept wages low until then, with a maximum of 1,900 bolivars (some $884) for teachers with postgraduate degrees.