Protests against Milei continue as public teachers strike, calling for wage increases

State employees will also strike and march on Friday to protest the recent wave of layoffs

The wave of protests against President Javier Milei shows no signs of letting up, with public school teachers and state employees striking on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Teachers are carrying out a nationwide strike protesting the government’s decision to eliminate a teachers’ fund that improved their salaries and calling for a raise. State employees will strike and march to protest against the new wave of layoffs.

Nationally, teachers’ wages have been frozen since September 2023. In Argentina, national negotiations set the minimum wage for teachers countrywide. This is then used to set provincial wages. 

As of February, the average monthly teacher’s salary nationwide was AR$350,000 (US$397 at the official rate, US$353 at the MEP rate), while the poverty line for a couple with two children was over AR$690,000 last month (US$783 and US$696), according to the latest report by Argentina’s INDEC statistics bureau.

Presidential Spokesman Manuel Adorni said the government will not be paying the workday to those teachers who join the strike. “This administration has been in place for less than four months and the school year started less than 30 days ago,” he said in a press conference. “Who in their right mind would consider it correct to carry out a strike in this context?”

This is the second teacher strike since Milei took office in December. It was called on Tuesday by the Confederation of Argentine Education Workers (CTERA by its Spanish initials), which gathers unions from around the country. While CTERA has met with the government to negotiate salaries over the past month, they haven’t reached any agreement yet.

A major factor in the strike was President Javier Milei’s decision last Friday to eliminate the Teachers’ Incentive National Fund (FONID, in Spanish), which he had already been refusing to pay since the start of the year. The FONID represented around 10% of teachers’ salaries, meaning that, without any increases in sight, teachers are currently earning less than last year, as CTERA leader Sonia Alesso pointed out on several occasions.

Another fund for teachers in poorer provinces, known as the “compensation fund,” as well as economic help for school-run soup kitchens, have also been withheld.

“The FONID […] cannot be eliminated via decree because it was voted by a majority [in Congress],” CTERA said Saturday in a release. “This measure worsens even more the teachers’ salary situation because it represents between 10 and 20% of salary decrease.” The FONID was already included in the national budget in place for 2024.

State employees set to strike and march

On Wednesday morning, dozens of fired public employees tried to reenter their workplaces after the massive dismissals carried out over the past week. Most weren’t able to do so as the government set up a police guard in most public buildings. During the afternoon, the State Workers Association (ATE, by its Spanish initials) decided to strike nationwide on Friday and march to the economy ministry in Buenos Aires.

Although reportedly unrelated, Labor Relations Undersecretary Mariana Hortal Sueldo also resigned on Wednesday. She was named to her post on February 15.

Hortal Sueldo was supposed to work closely with former Labor Secretary Omar Yasin. However, Yasin was fired on March 11 after Milei, during a radio interview, said he had been responsible for authorizing a 48% salary increase for high-ranking public officials in February, including the president himself. Adorni said Hortal Sueldo decided to resign because she wanted to work with Yasín. Julio Cordero has replaced Yasin as Labor Secretary.


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