Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Argentine teachers three-days national strike for greater pay amidst spi...



Thousands of teachers across Argentina have walked out of classrooms on April 11, as part of a three-day national strike to demand a wage increase to compensate for a spike in inflation. Teachers took their protest to Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo where some gave open-air classes to students to raise awareness of the value of public education and to call for greater funding for universities and in teaching salaries. Union teachers want a 35% increase salary, saying their takings are too low.

The outcome of Argentina's annual wage negotiations are closely watched by economists as salary hikes far above the central bank's target for 12-17 percent inflation in 2017 could make it more difficult for the government to control inflation. The teachers strike has posed a test for centre-right President Mauricio Macri's administration, which is increasingly clashing with the country's powerful unions ahead of legislative elections in October. Macri's coalition is banking on success in the midterm vote to continue its agenda of market-friendly reforms.

At an event for young entrepreneurs, Macri accused teachers of not complying with teaching norms. Since taking over in December 2015 after more than a decade of populist rule, Macri has allowed the peso currency to float, reduced energy subsidies and eliminated tariffs intended to promote domestic manufacturing. The short-term impact of such policies has seen private economists predict inflation to top 21 percent in 2017, after an annual rate of 40% in 2016.

Teachers in Argentina's largest province of Buenos Aires have been offered an 18 percent raise in wages but argue that such adjustments to their salaries would be cancelled out by double-digit inflation. Trade unions are becoming more vocal in their opposition to some of Macri's pro-market policies amidst a sluggish Argentine economy. A promised wave of investments under Macri has not yet arrived and the economy has struggled to rebound from a deep recession.

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