Chile’s Teacher Union Strike Ends; Move for Unaddressed Concerns Continues
The educators have turned down the latest proposal put forth by the administration of Gabriel Boric in response to their demands, which notably include addressing the historical debt. Nonetheless, they have voted in favor of terminating the nationwide strike.
The Teachers’ College has declined the Ministry of Education’s offer while simultaneously ending the indefinite strike that commenced last Tuesday. Consequently, classes resumed as usual across the country starting on Monday, September 4.
In response to the eight-point petition presented by teachers and the subsequent national consultation conducted last Thursday, the Teachers’ College plenary session rejected the proposal from the government. However, in a second vote, they decided against continuing with the strike.
The teachers’ petition includes calls for progress in resolving the historical debt issue, altering the public education financing system, and seeking solutions to classroom violence, among other demands.
The 8 Key Points of Their Petition:
• Rectification of the Historical Debt to teachers who have devoted their careers to educating Chile.
• Implementation of a concrete plan to address school violence.
• Timely payment of overdue Retirement Bonds.
• Resolution of the issues plaguing Local Public Education Services (SLEP).
• Reform of the education financing model to eliminate job insecurity.
• Alleviation of the burdens placed on teachers’ workloads, prioritizing their mental well-being.
• Review of the Full School Day program
• Equal payment for differential and kindergarten teachers.
[EN LA PIZARRA] ¿QUÉ LOGRAMOS CON EL PARO NACIONAL DOCENTE? https://t.co/3TRamFGb1e
— Colegio de Profesoras y Profesores de Chile (@ColegioProfes) September 5, 2023
The Teachers’ Historical Debt
The term refers to the “salary deficit endured by numerous public school teachers during the dictatorship when school administration shifted from the State to municipalities,” as described by the Ministry of Education (Mineduc).
During this period, teachers were denied the salary adjustment stipulated in Decree Law No. 3,551 (Article 40) of 1981. This crucial readjustment, as mandated by the law, was disregarded by the new school administrators, resulting in a reduction in the salaries of these educators, reports Red News, Chile.
How Is the Historical Debt Defined by the College of Teachers?
According to the teachers’ union within the College of Teachers,
“The Historical Debt represents the violation of an established salary entitlement that was stripped from thousands of teachers during the Dictatorship. This deprivation directly led to reduced salaries for these educators over the years, and, within the context of the individual pension system imposed by AFPs, it had a long-term, irreversible impact on the retirement pensions of numerous teachers.”
“It is a debt incurred during the transition to democracy because the teachers’ union, from the very outset, advocated for the reinstatement of the rule of law in Chile,” they further explain.
The union elaborates that following the return to democracy in the country, “the Chilean State failed to restore a fundamental labor right to thousands of teachers: the right to receive their full salary and respect the salary entitlements they had earned.”
“It is not the sole debt owed by democracy to education, but it is the one that most directly affects teachers in their day-to-day lives, resulting in reduced pensions after years of dedicated service to the teaching profession,” they conclude.
Jorge Barriga, the Biobío Regional President of the Teachers’ College, emphasized that the issue of the Historical Debt will forever remain the primary rallying cry for their union. “In all the petitions that the Teachers’ College has presented over the past several years, the Historical Debt has consistently topped the list.”
According to their calculations, made in collaboration with specialists, the amount owed to each teacher affected by this debt is approximately 100 million pesos. Recognizing that this is an insurmountable sum to pay in full, educators acknowledge the magnitude of the challenge, reports Diario Concepcion.
Currently, there are teachers aged between 65 and 95 years or even older who should receive compensation for this debt. Estimates suggest that there are approximately 90,000 affected teachers nationwide.
At least 25,000 colleagues have passed away without receiving justice for the financial harm inflicted upon them during the Dictatorship, states Diario Concepcion.
“In our region, we do not possess an exhaustive registry because many colleagues worked here and then relocated, and not all are accounted for. However, we do have an approximate tally based on last year’s list, which amounted to around 70,000 to 72,000 teachers,” noted Barriga.
The Teachers’ College’s frustration with the current government stems from the fact that a timeline had already been established for addressing the Historical Debt, culminating in a bill due in December.
“This is where our discontent originates because the planning extended throughout the second semester, and it’s now being explained to us that the obstacle lies in the Tax Reform, a condition that had not been explicitly communicated earlier.”
At present, the Teachers’ Association is uncertain about the proposed repayment amount. While the Ministry of Education has stated that all teachers will be compensated, the process is set to commence with 25% of them in the year 2024. The union hopes that all teachers will receive their owed amounts within the current government’s tenure.
“We are in a state of anticipation. It’s the first time we’ve come this close to achieving our goal, but we won’t be satisfied until the payments commence,” Barriga remarked.
Reducing Teachers’ Labor Burdens
The plenary session of the Upper House will finally vote this Tuesday, September 5, on the initiative that ends the duplication of teacher evaluation systems for Chilean teachers in a fundamental step for advancing the processing of the future law, stated the Colegio de Profesoras y Profesores de Chile.
The legislative initiative is part of the struggle of the teachers’ union to reduce the labor burden of the country’s teachers and teachers and its discussion and voting can be followed from 4:00 p.m. onwards through the social networks of the College of Teachers and Professors.
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