January 16, 2021

Venezuelan teachers declare "emergency" and threaten union actions

Venezuelan teachers declare "emergency" and threaten union actions



Venezuelan teachers today declared the "emergency" of the primary education sector, which restarted activities last week in the country, while announcing that they will take "union actions" if their claims for wage increases and better working conditions are not addressed immediately.

The president of the teachers' union of Caracas, Edgar Machado, told reporters that the sector is "in an educational emergency" due to poor salaries and the poor state of educational infrastructure, which were not taken care of during the vacation stoppage.

"The educators of Caracas are tired, we are in an educational emergency", emphasized Machado in the middle of a small protest in the Venezuelan capital.

According to the trade union leader, the Venezuelan State has breached at least 8 terms of the collective agreement that it signed last April with the educators.

One of the clauses that is not fulfilled, he said, is that which implies income in the order of 6.5 minimum salaries for the most experienced teachers (11,700 bolivars or 188 dollars), as well as the bonus for the start of classes, which located at 460 bolivares or 7.4 dollars.

"The president (Nicolás Maduro) got tired of saying that (this) was the best contract (for teachers) worldwide, so if it is the best contract, let it be fulfilled," added Machado.

Venezuela, the country with the largest proven oil reserves on the planet, suffers from a severe economic crisis that is expressed in scarcity and hyperinflation, an indicator that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates will close at 1,000,000% this 2018.

The Government of Maduro issued a package of measures, in the context of this crisis, which include the freezing of prices, a tax reform and the increase in the minimum wage – which became the norm for public workers – for 35 times its previous value.

The public employees have denounced that this last decree supposed a de facto unification of the salaries and the elimination of the tables long discussed in the collective contracts.

In addition, they point out that the amount, which amounts to 1,800 bolivars or 30 dollars per month, does not cover the basic needs of a family.

"The salary does not even reach us to survive (…), the quality (of life) of the educators has totally declined, we do not have even to buy the most economic shoe," Machado said today.

President Maduro, for his part, said today in an act broadcast on a mandatory radio and television station, that education in the country is "solid, powerful and comprehensive."

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