Saturday, August 31, 2013

Oaxaca freezes pay of striking teachers

"Hay que trabajar a ganar - You gotta work if you wanna get paid"

Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca -
Oaxaca state governor Gabino Cué Monteagudo followed through on his Thursday warning to members of the powerful Coordinadora Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), by refusing to pay 74,000 striking teachers for the first two weeks of the school year which ended on Friday.

The primary and secondary level educators failed to show up for the first day of classes on Aug. 19, shutting down 13,000 schools and leaving more than a million kids at home "until further notice." Continued teacher strikes idle almost a million students in Oaxaca.

Members of CNTE Oaxaca Local 22 have been in the Federal District for the past two weeks, causing enormous disruption in Mexico City. They've threatened another major demonstration on Sunday, and have urged other labor syndicates to join them. Teachers' union calls for nationwide strike.

A Mexican news service reported yesterday that CNTE and the Oaxaca locals are well compensated and enjoy some of the best benefits in the industry. But they are extremely opposed to a package of federal educational reforms which have overwhelming support across the Mexican political spectrum. Oaxaca education at the mercy of omnipotent syndicate.

Teachers commonly collect their two weeks pay by going to ATM machines - ubiquitous in Mexico - and using a debit card to withdraw the pesos corresponding to their salaries. Yesterday they were told not to bother, because the wages won't be coughed up, at least for now.

State officials say the money has been deposited in the proper teachers' payment account, but an order to release the funds has not yet been issued by the Oaxaca government.

Governor Cué - many of whose constituents are CNTE members - said in a nationally broadcast Televisa interview on Thursday that the teachers are "good people who are sending the wrong public message." He said they would not be paid until they return to classes and make up the missed days.

Many of the same teachers participated in work stoppages last spring, causing their students to miss days or weeks of classes. Teachers in three states again form picket lines.

Some teachers say they are still trying to recover from a 2006 strike, when the state froze their pay for a dozen weeks. Many had to take out loans, and some are still repaying them.

There are collateral victims in the long running labor dispute as well. Vendors of food, drinks, clothing and school supplies, known as ambulantes, frequently set up shop outside the schools, catering to students and their parents before and after school hours. With classrooms darkened indefinitely, they suffer, too. In many instances the vendors have no other source of income.

Mexico's federal government has been extremely lenient with striking teachers. Yesterday president Enrique Peña Nieto's attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, told the press, "We can afford to show them a little patience." But that could end tomorrow if CNTE and Oaxaca Local 22 decide to engage in further acts of violence, on the eve of Peña Nieto's first state of the nation address to the congress. PRI government shows no resolve against thug teachers.

Oct. 15: Oaxaca's governor caves to school teachers, pays them millions for 40 days not yet worked

Oct. 14 - Pagan quincenas atrasadas a maestros de Oaxaca
Oct. 12 - Libera Gabino Cué bono a maestros de la sección 22
Oct. 11 - Pagan quincenas atrasadas a maestros de Oaxaca

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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