Start of Argentina school year postponed by teachers’ strike

Want raises to cope with expected 30 per cent inflation in 2019

Start of Argentina school year postponed by teachers’ strike
Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri smiles as he arrives at the opening session of the 137th legislative term in Buenos Aires, on March 1. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) — Argentina’s new school year, scheduled to start on Wednesday, was widely postponed until next week by a three-day strike by teachers who say their wages are not keeping up with inflation.

Seven months ahead of an election in which centre-right President Mauricio Macri is expected to face tough competition from the left-leaning branch of the Peronist coalition, only six of the country’s 24 provinces started classes on time.

With Argentina in recession and inflation clocked at more than 47 per cent last year, the economy is the main election issue. In Buenos Aires, Argentina’s biggest province, teachers received a 32 per cent raise in 2018 and want an additional 16 per cent increase before negotiating their 2019 contract.

With consumer prices expected to rise more than 30 per cent in 2019, voters are feeling the pain of public utility subsidy cuts under Macri’s unpopular fiscal austerity program.

Monday and Tuesday were holidays in Argentina, with the 2019 academic year scheduled to start on Wednesday after a Southern Hemisphere summer break that started before Christmas.

“We are starting this year’s classes in the streets, to demand dignified salaries,” teachers’ union official Eduardo Lopez told local radio.

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