Gov't, teachers hold key salary meeting
School year is scheduled to begin tomorrow but unions are expected to call for a 72-hour strike
The federal government and teachers unions were meeting again in a last-ditch effort to set a nationwide salary floor for 2014.
However, it seems that Kirchnerite officials have left little room for negotiation, as the third meeting that was expected to take place yesterday was postponed for today at 10am, reportedly on direct orders from President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Yesterday, UDA teachers union leader Gustavo Frutto said the government was expected to present a new offer that will improve its previous proposal of a 22-percent wage hike in three installments.
The government’s offer that was roundly rejected would have taken the minimum salary for teachers from 3,416 to 4,167 pesos in November — but teachers are asking for a floor closer to the 4,800-5,500-pesos range.
Frutto said President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had a “mistaken vision” of the work that teachers do, judging by the head of state’s speech on Saturday at the opening of this year’s Congress.
“I’m not surprised by the president’s remarks because she has a mistaken vision,” the union leader told Radio El Mundo.
No time to lose
Frutto was upset by Fernández de Kirchner’s decision to harshly criticize teachers unions for the second year in a row.
Following the cancellation of yesterday’s meeting, UDA — which is part of the pro-government CGT umbrella union headed by Antonio Caló — published a news release saying that the national government should act in a timely manner, as the school year is expected to begin tomorrow.
In this context, Frutto revealed further details of the wage talks conclave.
“The meeting will take place tomorrow (today), the government’s offer will be immediately considered and a decision will be made on whether classes will begin or not,” the UDA leader said referring to the 72-hour strike that was approved by teachers but provisionally suspended until today’s meeting.
“I believe that if the government called for a recess in negotiations it is because it will present a better offer this time. If the offer satisfies our demands or not... well that’s an entirely different matter,” the union leader said. For his part, Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli appealed to the “social vocation” of teachers, and asked them to guarantee that classes will begin tomorrow.
Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich, Education Minister Alberto Sileoni and Labour Minister Carlos Tomada were participating in the meeting, alongside the five nationwide teachers unions CTERA, UDA, AMET, CEA and Sadop.