ASUNCION – Public school teachers took to the streets of Asuncion on Tuesday to demand better pay, rejecting the salary hikes proposed by the Paraguayan government in the 2018 budget.
The march was organized to coincide with the debate on the budget that started in Congress on Tuesday.
The protest march, which is taking place during a one-day general strike, drew thousands of teachers and their supporters, who wore yellow t-shirts and waved flags as they wound their way through the capital from the Plaza Uruguaya to the Plaza de Armas, located across from Congress.
The teachers wanted to be in the plaza while the lower house of Congress voted on the proposed government budget, which calls for a 12 percent pay hike for educators.
The government arrived at the 12 percent figure for 2018 unilaterally, while the teachers union had called for a 12 percent pay increase in January and another 8 percent wage hike in July, teachers said.
Union leaders met with lawmakers in the weeks before the budget debate to press their demands.
Last week, union leaders said they would be comfortable with a compromise one-time pay hike of 16 percent, but they expressed confidence that the meetings with legislators would bear fruit.
The Senate is scheduled to debate the 2018 budget in two weeks.
On Sept. 1, President Horacio Cartes said his administration planned to spend more than $100 million over the next four years to improve teacher pay.