Chilean teachers continue their strike for a fifth week

In its new proposal, the education ministry refused to address six of the twelve demands put forth by the teachers’ union and offered to continue negotiating in the future on the rest

July 03, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
"Education should be a priority", Chilean teachers begin week 5 of their strike. Photo: Colegio de Profesores de Chile

On July 1, in a new national teachers’ consultation organized by the teachers union, the Colegio de los Profesores de Chile (CPC), thousands of Chilean teachers rejected the latest proposal made by the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) and decided to continue with their strike. Today June 3, the CPC has called on teachers, trade unions and all concerned citizens to mobilize in a national strike in defense of public education and in support of their strike.

More than 50,000 teachers across Chile took part in the voting process on July 11. A majority of 73.34% of the teachers voted for the option to reject the MINEDUC’s proposal and continue the indefinite national strike. 24.55% of the teachers supported the option of partially accepting the proposal, calling off the strike and delegating the CPC the responsibility to continue the dialogue and negotiate over the demands. Only 2.11% of teachers voted to accept the proposal and put an end to the strike.

After holding two long meetings with the education minister Marcela Cubilloson on June 27 & 28, the CPC called the teachers to vote on the new proposal by the ministry. A day prior to voting, Cubillos warned the teachers that if the strike continued and the classes were not rescheduled, they would not be paid.

Mario Aguilar, the president of the CPC, has asked the teachers to continue mobilizing and remain firm in pushing for their demands.

Out of the 12-point charter of demands, the education ministry straightaway refused to address six of the demands and offered to continue negotiating in the future on the other six. The insulting response given by the government of President Sebastián Piñera, after four weeks of mobilization and a series of negotiations, demonstrated its unwillingness to attend to its people’s needs.

For the last four weeks, more than 90,000 primary and secondary education teachers have been on an indefinite strike demanding better working conditions, infrastructural improvement of public school establishments, payment of the long-standing teachers’ debt and against the curriculum changes announced by the education ministry. The changes make subjects like History, Physical Education and Arts optional instead of compulsory for third and fourth grade from next academic year onwards.

The payment of a special bonus to special educators and primary teachers, elimination of the double assessment process of teachers before employment, employment with permanent contracts, end to violence against educational workers, and withdrawal of the anti-student “safe-classroom” bill are some of their other demands.

The teachers’ strike continues to grow and has received support from national and international organizations. Several social, women, human rights and students’ organizations as well as trade unions and left-wing political parties have also expressed their support for the teachers’ strike and their demands. Teachers’ unions in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have also extended their solidarity with the Chilean teachers.

On June 26, tens of thousands of people throughout Chile took part in the Cacerolazos, called for by the CPC and expressed their support to teachers’ demands. Cacerolazo is a kind of protest in which people make noise by banging pots, pans, and other utensils in order to call for attention.

Thousands of Chileans took part in Cacerolazos across the country in support of the teachers on June 26. Photo: Colegio de Profesores de Chile