December 21, 2014
Gov't confirms mandatory conciliation in teachers' salary conflict
With the beginning of the school year already halted by a 48-hour strike, Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich defended the government’s salary hike offer that unionized teachers rejected on Tuesday’s talks and called for a “plural and democratic” debate on education.
In his daily brief to the press, the head of ministers confirmed negotiations with education unions continue despite the walkout measure that is affecting 19 provinces and ratified the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration’s “pro-dialogue” position in the conflict.
Following yesterday’s decision to issue a mandatory conciliation “to guarantee the continuation” of talks, Capitanich pointed out that the recovery of workers’ purchase power has increased by “more than 70 percent” since 2003 and stressed that the wage hike that is currently on the negotiation table is a “witness salary” – the initial salary – that serves as a reference for unions when discussing salaries in each provincial jurisdiction.
Addressing reporters at the government house, the cabinet chief stood by what President Kirchner said regarding teachers’ perfect attendance during her speech on Saturday when she kicked off a new period of sessions in Parliament, sensitive comments that have sparked workers’ criticism.
“Unions have not rejected the possibility to discuss absenteeism; we think it is indispensable to do it. We must find a way of consensus that allows us to defend public and popular education,” the minister affirmed.
Head of state Kirchner had urged teachers to accept the government’s decision to grant a salary plus for perfect attendance. “Is it fair for that who goes the whole year to make the same as that who goes on every possible leave?,” CFK complaint and questioned teachers’ strike threats. “Sometimes one feels that is being held hostage because children have to attend classes, people have to work,” she had said.