Teachers Vote To End Strike, Return To Classroom
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Striking teachers voted by a wide margin to return to the classroom and end a walkout that has kept 10 million students out of school, a union official said.
The vote ended a 3-week-old strike by a dissident faction of the pro- government teachers union to demand higher wages and protest alleged union corruption.
An agreement between the union and the striking faction ″was approved overwhelmingly″ by the dissident teachers Wednesday night, said the union official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He did not give the vote.
The National Education Workers’ Union and the dissident Democratic Coordinate agreed to accept a government offer of a 25 percent increase in wages and benefits and to adopt anti-corruption measures.
The federal Education Department also said it would replace the superintendents in all 14 of the nation’s districts. It said the move was designed to increase efficiency, but it gave no details.
The Democratic Coordinate claims the loyalty of about half the union’s 1.1 million members, and the strike closed roughly half of the nation’s grammar and high schools and vocational institutes.
The government had threatened unspecified punitive measures against the striking teachers, but the union official said that all teachers who return to work will suffer no consequences.
The Excelsior news service reported that schools would reopen nationwide by next Tuesday. Schools in some parts of Mexico reported that they were ready to open today.
The Democratic Coordinate struck April 17 to demand union democracy and a 100 percent increase in pay.
The teachers, whose take-home pay averages $147 a month, rejected the government’s initial offer of a 15 percent increase.
The strike also led to the ouster of the union’s chief, Carlos Jonguitud Barrios, an old-style machine politician close to the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party. Jonguitud and a group of associates had controlled the union for 17 years.
Union dissidents accused Jonguitud of mismanaging union funds and keeping his group in power by rigging union elections.
Jonguitud’s replacement, Elba Esther Gordillo, removed a major obstacle to reviving negotiations. Coordinate leader Teodoro Palomino refused to talk with Jonguitud but said he was willing to deal with Ms. Gordillo.