El Salvador Teachers Want Promised Pay Raises, Call For Strike

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By Marco Echevarria

Teachers’ unions reiterated on Monday the call for the Government to set up a dialogue table on the wage adjustment ordered by the Teacher Career Act and which, they say, had to enter into force in 2023.

Israel Montano, secretary general of the National Association of Salvadoran Educators (ANDES June 21), recalled that the Ministry of Education (MINED) is promoting an educational reform, called “My New School.” He added that teachers are willing to participate in this process, but the pay review is also important.

“Let’s sit down. If we sit down and talk, we find the mechanism to achieve this article 33 and continue (with educational reform),” Montano said in the interview Front to Front, of the Salvadoran Telecorporation.

Article 33 referred to by Montano is the Law on Teacher Career, which provides that teachers; salaries must be subject to periodic adjustments, not more than three years. The last review came into force in 2019, so the next one should have been implemented in 2023.

Jorge Villegas, secretary general of Magisterial Bases, explained that to date they have not held meetings with MINED to address the issue, despite their requests for a hearing.

“On 21 November (2023) we took notes to the two ministers, to the Treasury and Education, who requested a meeting to deal with this item of Article 33; there was no answer. On December 22 we get back to it, have there been an answer? There has been no response,” he said. “We are demanding wage bargaining,” he stressed.

Villegas added that, due to the lack of answers, on January 26 they have called for a teachers’ march to demand that the law be complied with. He said that “the march is going,” unless “the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance, the Government calls us to negotiate the way out of the problem. We would gladly suspend the march, if there is negotiation before the 26th.”

For his part, Montano clarified that the march has no relation to any “opposition movement” nor is it oriented to “wanting to overwhelm the electoral political process that the country is experiencing.”

The secretary of ANDES June 21 warned that any representative of political institutes who wants to participate in it will be expelled from the demonstration.

“To the politicians we say: go get votes elsewhere, don’t go and get votes to the marches. The ranks of the magisterium are not to seek votes,” Villegas stressed.

Since the mid-2022 the magisterium has been publicly requesting that the adjustment be made. In September of that year, at the request of teachers, MINED included the issue in the working tables to build the reform “My New School.”

In October, in the context of these work tables, the teachers presented a wage review proposal, valued at $413 million, but received no immediate response. The tables for the reform were not reconvened and it was until February last year that Education informed them that the Government had no funds to implement the review.

From that moment on, the unions began to request that the review be included in the 2024 budget. In October last year, the head of MINED, José Mauricio Pineda, disasso himself from the issue, arguing that the Treasury had already imposed a ban on wage increases in this year’s spending plan.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in La Prensa Grafica