Teachers stop the trains in Veracruz. Teachers stop the trains in Veracruz.

Main teachers union blockades railways, mimicking its militant counterpart

They were demanding that new labor laws to democratize union elections are adhered to

Members of Mexico’s largest teachers union, the SNTE, took a leaf out of the playbook of its more dissident counterpart on Tuesday by blocking train tracks to pressure the government to meet its demands.

The militant CNTE teachers union has been successful in obtaining more than 800 million pesos (US $40.9 million) in unpaid bonuses in Michoacán by blocking tracks, the newspaper Reforma reported, noting also that it has won promises from the government related to the allocation of teaching positions in states such as Oaxaca and Chiapas.

In that context, some members of the SNTE teachers union “copied” the railroad blockade strategy in Veracruz, Puebla and Tlaxcala on Tuesday to demand that President López Obrador and Labor Minister Luisa María Alcalde ensure that new labor laws guaranteeing them the right to elect their union leaders in free and secret ballots are adhered to.

Reforma reported that there were blockades on tracks in the Veracruz municipalities of Coatzacoalcos, Fortín, Córdoba and Orizaba as well as in the Puebla municipality of Rafael Lara Grajales and in Huamantla, Tlaxcala. Members of a group called Maestros por México (Teachers for Mexico) – linked to former, long-serving SNTE boss Elba Esther Gordillo, who was absolved of corruption charges in 2018 – led the blockades at several points.

Freight trains transporting products including steel, fertilizers, auto parts and foodstuffs, among other goods, were held up by the blockades.

Protesting teachers warned that rail blockades in states such as Hidalgo, México state, Nuevo León, Jalisco and Michoacán, will follow if the Labor Ministry doesn’t ensure that their demand for union democratization is met. They also called for teachers who were dismissed during the administration of the previous government to be reinstated and for more funds to be allocated to education.

Rail blockades by members of the CNTE union in Michoacán lasted 18 days in early 2019, costing the economy at least 18.5 billion pesos.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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