SANTIAGO – The national teachers strike in Chile will continue. During a vote of the Teachers’ Association, a small majority of the members voted against a government proposal. Hundreds of thousands of students throughout the country haven’t had classes for six weeks now.
For nearly 40 days, teachers in Chile are striking. Massive marches were held in cities throughout the country and the government after several weeks opened talks with the Chilean Teachers Association. Yesterday, this union voted on a proposal from the government, but saw the proposal rejected with a difference of 255 votes.
According to the secretary general of the union, out of 36,317 registered votes, 50.36 percent (17,985 votes) voted against the proposal while 49.64 (17,730 votes) voted to end the strike and go back to work.
Mario Aguilar, president of the Chilean Teachers Association, had earlier recommended members of the union to accept the proposal, which offered a bonus of CLP$45,000 pesos every semester to special education teachers. Only teachers who follow a special, paid government course would receive this bonus.
What Do the Teachers Want?
Teachers are striking against the little labor stability. Teachers in Chile often work on one-year contracts and have no right on a permanent contract after a certain term.
Nurses or special education teachers at Chilean schools earn less than other teachers. Teachers protest this salary inequality.
The fact that retired teachers often don’t receive the government bonuses they are eligible for, is a thorn in the side of the union.
Another important point is what is described as “the historical debt”. Since 1981, public officials had their salary readjusted and in all sectors, including education, salaries increased. Nevertheless, teachers did not receive their part, which for some teachers meant an increase of 90 percent of their normal salary.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today.