President Nicolas Maduro has not addressed the complaints of the largest union In Venezuela: teachers. In the celebration of its day, union leaders promise that anti-Maduro protests will only grow louder.
January 15, Venezuela celebrates Teacher Day, amid deteriorating conditions for that profession during the last years.
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The discontent dates back to 2019. Since then, teachers have started to raise their voices against what they consider a labor injustice. Although the situation was precarious, the pandemic further complicated Venezuelan education. And salaries are not the only concern: According to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs, only 31.3% of those surveyed have “good Internet connection” while 35% declared to have limited or low connectivity. Huawei said that Venezuela has the slowest internet in Latin America, slower than connection speeds in Cuba or Haiti. These are the circumstances in which teachers and students participate in online classes due to the pandemic.
The educators have denounced on several occasions that the salary they earn forces them to live condemned to extreme poverty since what they receive is not enough to cover the minimum expenses.
Here is a summary of the teachers’ demands:
Like most public sector workers, teachers also demand decent wages. The lack of remuneration sufficient to cover basic needs leaves the union in a vulnerable situation. According to reports gathered by El Pitazo, at the end of 2020, a teacher earned between three and five dollars. A salary that gets pulverized daily by hyperinflation, which began its fourth year in November 2020.
Teachers, doctors, and other degree-holding professionals migrated out of Venezuela in droves, part of a 5.5 million Venezuelan exodus that began in 2013 when Maduro first took over.
According to the Venezuelan Federation of Teachers, a teacher should be earning about $600 per month.
Another of the teachers’ complaints is the lack of social security. They have denounced that the salary of a retired teacher is not enough to live. The medical benefits, such as the Ministry of Education’s insurance, are not solvent.
They have also denounced the deterioration of the services provided by the Institute for Social Service, Protection and Assistance (Ipasme). They ask for a review of the economic part of the contract.
Teachers also demand the payment of bonuses and allowances established in the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2018. They assure that the salary they earn does not rise even to cover transportation costs. They also ask for the increase of the food allowance adjusted to the hyperinflationary reality of the country.
Benefits they lost
The guilds and federations of the country have requested respect for the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2018. Also, ask that all the specifications in the contract get fulfilled.
The resignation of Aristobulo and Piñate
Given the lack of response to their demands, educators have also publicly stated and demanded the resignation of the Minister of Education, Aristobulo Isturiz, and the Minister of Labor, Eduardo Piñate.