Teacher unions across the country mobilized today in a general strike to demand better pay. In total, eight unions participated in 14,221 schools throughout the country. The head of the Colegio de Profesores de Venezuela, Luis Rosas, estimates that 96,000 teachers are taking part in the strike.
Of primary concern to the teachers is the 20% increase to their minimum wage Maduro announced earlier this year. At the time of the announcement, economics and opposition figures alike pointed out that the increase is less than the rate of inflation, making it essentially meaningless.
The strike which began earlier today is scheduled to last 24 hours, but the head of the the Federacion Venezolana de Maestros, Orlando Alzuru, said that the protest would continue on May 20 in front of the Ministry of Education in Caracas if today’s action went unnoticed by the national government.
Lisbeth Perez, a teacher at the Navas Tovar School in Maracaibo, Zulia state, told RunRun.es why she was protesting:
The cesta ticket [a food subsidy] isn’t enough. We [can only afford] to eat dinner at bakeries.
Jose Gregorio Colina, a teacher from Barinas state, told El Universal that he was concerned that as meagre as the 20% salary increase might be, he believes some teachers have not yet received it:
It’s true that there are teachers who [are still being paid] below the minimum wage. This is also true for professionals in other fields. So, who did the math?
Colina also said that aside from the poor wages, teachers are also protesting more generally against:
… insecurity, scarcity, lack of employment opportunities, the suffering villages here in Barinas, the [lack of reliable] water and electricity. In other words, everyone is being hit by something, and this is something that affects every sector.
Below, some pictures from the teacher’s strike today.
Barquisimeto, Lara state:
The sign below contains some wordplay. It reads, “We’ve gone from teachers to [poor]chers”. In Spanish, the words pobre [poor] and profe [short for profesor, “teacher”] are similar.
This sign by staff at the Universidad Simon Bolivar reads, “We don’t want to strike! We want to work for a dignified wage”:
Teachers in the Plaza Miranda in Cumana, Sucre state:
Blocking the Francisco de Miranda Avenue in Caracas:
This sign in Machiques, Maracaibo state reads, “[Give] Maduro minimum wage so he can learn what difficult is”:
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