Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:25AM
A professor (foreground-L) gives free classes in front of the Congress, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
A professor (foreground-L) gives free classes in front of the Congress, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
  • Embed

Teachers unions in Argentina, fighting for wage increases and better funding for education, have officially inaugurated a make-shift mobile “public school” as a new form of protest against the government of President Mauricio Macri.

The teachers, the representatives of union CTERA, announced on Thursday that local authorities in the capital, Buenos Aires, had permitted them to set up a school-like structure in front of the Congress.

“The tent school meant to provide free classes to about 30 people sitting in the area for a new bill on education funding,” they said, adding that there will be classes, talks, and artistic activities during the weekend.

“Thanks to the struggle of the teachers and a government that has come back to its sense, the time we were given allows us to install the tent,” said Esteban Sottile, one of the teachers participating in the effort.

Days earlier, however, a similar tent had been violently removed by authorities. Teachers were evicted from a large tent in the capital on April 9, with authorities arguing that the structure had had no formal authorization to be set up in public space.

The teachers unions accused police forces of using heavy-handed tactics, including by using pepper spray and batons, to evict the teachers.

Teacher union members attempt to set up a mobile school in front of the Argentine Congress before being removed by police, April 9, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Teachers are pushing for a wage increase of 35 percent to match rising inflation in the country. The government has offered a 19-percent wage increase for them. But the teachers have insisted on their own stance, staging large protests, going on strike, and pushing back the start date of many schools.

Macri has censured the protests by the teachers. “The teachers unions, instead of giving an example and doing their duty, are violating regulations,” he has said.

Read more:

The Macri government has also introduced austerity measures, some of which have affected funding for education. Tens of thousands of state employees, including many teachers, have been fired since Macri took office in 2015.