Friday, December 1, 2023

Michoacán teachers maintain their stand: no classes, rail blockades continue

Members of the CNTE teachers union will maintain their rail blockades in Michoacán and won’t return to the classroom because the state government still owes salary payments dating back to August, union leaders said Sunday.

Gamaliel Guzmán, leader of Section 18 of the dissident union, said the Michoacán government has paid teachers for the first half of October and the second half of September but still owes wages corresponding to the first half of last month and all of August.

“The problem hasn’t changed,” he said during a protest in Morelia attended by CNTE members from at least 17 other states.

Guzmán said authorities expected Michoacán teachers to be in the classroom on Monday but stressed that the union’s position has always been that they won’t return to school until all outstanding wages and benefits have been paid.

“We say to the state government and the federal government that we’re maintaining the position of not starting the school year,” he said.

“We no longer trust this [state] government; on September 8 we were summoned by the federal Interior Ministry, they presented a viable proposal that was supposed to begin on September 20 with the payment of three biweekly pay packets. Today they [the Michoacán government] tell us they’re [only] paying two biweekly pay packets and two bonuses, it’s not enough, the problem isn’t resolved, this government has lied to us,” Guzmán said.

Benjamín Hernández, leader of the so-called “power base” faction of Section 18, also said that teachers wouldn’t go back to school until the new state government, led by Morena party Governor Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla, has made all the payments it has promised to make.

In the meantime, the radical faction intends to maintain one railroad blockade that has been in place in Uruapan for 11 weeks and two others in Pátzcuaro and Morelia that were established almost a month ago.

“… It’s up to the different levels of government to immediately settle on a solution to the problem,” Hernández said.

In addition to blocking rail tracks, CNTE members have occupied toll plazas and government offices in several Michoacán municipalities to pressure the state government to pay unpaid wages. The union said last month that some 28,000 teachers were affected.

Michoacán industry association AIEMAC said in September that companies were losing a combined total of approximately 50 million pesos (US $2.46 million) each day due to the Uruapan rail blockade because they could’t get goods to or from the port of Lázaro Cárdenas.

Rail blockades have been a frequent occurrence in Michoacán since President López Obrador took office in late 2018, even though the federal government has released billions of pesos to its state counterpart to cover unpaid wages.

With reports from Reforma 

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