Friday, June 21, 2024

Despite new 10% pay hike for teachers in Mexico, strikes to begin in 4 states

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador commemorated National Teachers’ Day at his morning press conference Wednesday by confirming a 10% pay hike for teachers in Mexico just hours before he was to host the National Educational Workers Union (SNTE), the country’s largest teachers’ union, at a luncheon.

However, the announced pay increase did not please members of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), a breakaway faction of the SNTE that formed its own union  for teachers. The CNTE announced Wednesday that its members would begin a strike in the states of Oaxaca, Michoacán, Guerrero and Chiapas. 

CNTE union marching for pay hikes for teachers in Mexico in Oaxaca city
CNTE teachers’ union members, seen here marching Wednesday in Oaxaca city, are demanding a much higher pay hike for teachers in Mexico than President López Obrador announced on Wednesday. Leaders are scheduled to meet with the president at the National Palace on Thursday. (Tomás Acosta Ordaz/Cuartoscuro)

The CNTE estimates that this will result in roughly 40,000 schools being closed, impacting more than 1.3 million of Mexico’s schoolchildren.

The union is also trying to organize school closings in Mexico City.

López Obrador will meet officially with CNTE leaders at the National Palace on Thursday to negotiate higher pay hikes for teachers and other terms. The president is expected to make a counteroffer that same day.

“As we all know, today is a special day, Teachers Day,” the president said Wednesday morning at his press conference  “We all fondly remember our professors, our mentors, and today at noon we’re going to share lunch with all the teachers during a special ceremony in their honor.”

“I wanted to take the time now to reveal the annual salary increase, which will be a 10% increase. [At the ceremony], I will announce a few other advances in the field of education as well as additional benefits for teachers, but I wanted to pass along the news about the pay raise this morning so that the teachers hear about it as early as possible.”

López Obrador also shared with reporters the message he planned to read at the luncheon, which included a comparison of teachers’ salaries during his term and those of his two predecessors. 

Members of the CNTE teachers’ union in Mexico City marched to the historic Zócalo square on Wednesday, National Teachers’ Day. The union also announced a strike in four states.

“At the end of Calderón’s term [in 2012], a grade-school teacher was earning 9,580 pesos a month. At the end of Peña Nieto’s term [in 2018], a grade-school teacher was earning 11,952 pesos a month. Now, that same grade-school teacher will be receiving 17,635 pesos per month, a 47.5% increase,” he said.

In US dollar terms, those figures — adjusted by dollar-peso exchange rates by year — are US $684 per month in 2012, $716 per month in 2018, and $1,037 per month with the new salary increase. The president told reporters that teachers in bilingual Indigenous education settings will now earn 16,778 pesos, up from 5,994 in 2018.

“We have increased teachers’ wages and benefits to the limit of our possibilities … adding 175 billion pesos [US $10.5 million] to our budget,” he said. Just a year ago, López Obrador granted an 8.2% pay rise to teachers, increasing the budget by 42 billion pesos, or US $2.5 million.

During their meeting with López Obrador on Thursday, the CNTE will formally present their grievances and demands. 

With reports from El Universal and Proceso

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