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Road closed: teachers blockade a Oaxaca highway yesterday. Road closed: teachers blockade a Oaxaca highway yesterday.

Strike closes fewer schools than expected

Government says 26,000 substitutes ready to relieve dismissed teachers

A teachers’ strike that union officials had warned would close most of the schools in Oaxaca and Chiapas has not had the desired effect, even in Chiapas, where the latest reports indicate that fewer than 20% of schools are closed.

The CNTE union went on strike Sunday, which was Teacher’s Day throughout Mexico. By Monday afternoon it was clear that most teachers in Oaxaca had decided not to heed the union’s call for a work stoppage.

But there were reports from Chiapas that few schools had opened.

However, the federal Public Education Secretariat (SEP) said yesterday just 17% of the state’s schools were not operating, and that 18% of teachers — 7,376 in total — had joined the strike.

In three other states where teachers have expressed strong opposition to education reforms, the participation of teachers in the strike was even less.

In Oaxaca, the SEP said, 93% of schools were open yesterday while in Michoacán the figure was 92%. In Guerrero, 99.8% of schools opened.

Striking teachers are at risk of losing their jobs if they continue today. Public Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño has warned several times that not only will teachers have their pay docked for missed class time, they will be dismissed if they miss three days of work in a 30-day period without justification.

Nuño said yesterday that 24,617 teachers had joined the strike, but was confident that their positions would be filled should they be fired. He said 26,000 substitutes — 16,000 ready for full-time positions and 10,000 available for temporary work — are standing by.

Meanwhile, despite a big drop in the membership’s support for the Oaxaca union local Section 22, its leader has threatened that there will be no election June 5 if government officials don’t negotiate the teachers’ demands.

Rubén Núñez made the threat after Governor Gabino Cué said there would be no discussion without the immediate return of teachers to the classrooms, and insisted the strike would continue indefinitely if there was no response to the union’s list of demands.

Among them are a 100% pay increase, repeal of the education reforms and presentation alive of the 43 missing students of Ayotzinapa-Iguala.

Núñez said there will be more protest actions such as the blockade yesterday and today of the principal access routes of the city of Oaxaca. The union has also set up camp in the city’s zócalo.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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