Teachers on the March Again
(Chilpancingo, JG 7 June) The state teachers union, which has struggled militantly for six years against the state government of Zeferino Torreblanca and his secretary of education, has now entered the area to fight against Angel Aguirre and his education secretary, Sivia Romero. The issues are the same as ever. The teachers want an annual year-end bonus equal to 90-days of salary for retirees and pensioners, up from the 40 days that they already receive. The teachers are also marching for improved free health service for themselves and their families. Other demands are for free uniforms and school supplies for the students, a recategorization of the lowest levels in Indigenous Education, and an increase of the “Teachers’ Day” bonus from 15 days of salary to a month for both active and retired teachers in the union. They also want an extra day’s pay for every month that has 31 days in it.
The union leaders insisted on meeting with the governor, and when no response was forthcoming, they sent their marchers, over 2,000 of them, to block off all lanes on the toll road connecting Mexico City and Acapulco, keeping traffic at bay in both directions for over three hours. They also poured into downtown Chilpancingo, essentially bringing business in the capital city to a halt.
Eventually, a meeting was established between the union leaders and the governor’s political affairs undersecretary, Victor Aguirre (no relation), and the state education secretary, Silvia Romero, but the government made no concessions, and the marchers continued their demonstrations.
Teachers march several times a year, holding up traffic in Acapulco, Chilpancingo and along the public highways. Students lose many school days each year because of the union activities, and the general public is always grossly inconvenienced by their tactics. Gradually the public has distanced itself from the union, which seems to be constantly asking for more pay and less work. One newspaper reports that parents are close to revolt: their children receive less and less instruction – often from unqualified persons. These role models for their children are seen screaming and shouting in the streets, obstructing traffic and clamoring for more and more pay for less and less work. Rarely if ever does the interest of the student or the quality of education enter the discussion. The teachers’ union may think it is just starting another round of pugilism with a new state government, but it needs to see if there is any more public support for its goals or its tactics.