About the only thing all political parties agree on is that education is the only way for a better future for all children of Mexico.
Yet on Monday the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union will be holding a work stoppage in five, maybe six, different states which will only end when President Enrique Peña Nieto and the national Congress decide to abide by their demand to topple the 2013 Education Reform.
The CNTE union leaders in the states of Michoacán, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tabasco have made it clear to the government that “the conditions of our struggle do not permit returning to classrooms.”
The CNTE, however, continues to be a minority union as it is a radical communist splinter from the National Education Workers Union (SNTE) but even then, there are enough of them to wreak havoc in the states where they have a presence.
On a state by state analysis made by the Public Education Secretariat (SEP) the size of the work stoppage (notice, it is not a strike) is minimal, and SEP is making calls to all parents to send their children to school as the school year will begin “as programmed.” SEP warned that those not showing up for work will not be paid for the days not worked and the proper sanctions will be applied. Those missing four days in a row will be fired, according to SEP regulations.
Here’s a bird’s eye view of the situation in the five states.
Chiapas: Out of the 75,000 unionized teachers in the southeastern state, 10 percent, that is, 7,500 teachers belonging to pre-school, elementary, middle and high schools will not show up for classes, and they will attempt to shut down the schools. They may affect as many as 120,000 students. These teachers have been on a work stoppage since May 15, but their leader David Díaz has hopes that the parents will join them in their quest to topple the Education Reform.
If the government opposes them, leader Díaz threatened “there will be blood.”
Guerrero: State Coordinator of Guerrero Education Workers (CETEG) Carlos Botello announced that they have not stopped teaching indefinitely but that they will make an announcement about returning to classes after the national CNTE convention. On Sunday, they will hold their own CETEG convention to determine “what’s going to happen.”
The national assembly will be held in Mexico City at Azteca Stadium Saturday.
Michoacán: CNTE leaders claim that their capacity to stop the Michoacán state education system is up to 90 percent and they will stop work in 10,445 schools.
They threaten to not just carry out the work stoppage but to shut down malls, customs facilities, the international port of Lázaro Cárdenas, as well as roads and freeways.
Oaxaca: The 82,000 member union CNTE Section 22, in an all-night session from last Thursday to Friday morning, agreed to stop classes, affecting 1.3 million students. They also agreed to “reactivate” road blockades throughout the state as well as an “alternate school calendar” different from that of SEP.
Tabasco: This state is where CNTE union is weakest, but leader Jesús López Pablo warned that they will prevent some 550,000 students from attending classes.
Yet state governor Arturo Nuñez said that “classes will be held as programmed on Monday in the great majority, if not all, Tabasco state schools.”
Gov. Nuñez also called upon teachers to make their demands and disagreements public “through the proper channels” namely the national Congress which approved the Education Reform.
In all states, the “menu” (CNTE’s word) of actions to be taken Monday include street demonstrations, sit ins, public education building take overs and road blockades in order to force both the state and federal government to meet their demands.
By the way, the CNTE Section 9 is also staging their work stoppage in Mexico City schools, but the impact is expected to be minimal as Mexico City is one of their weakest chain links.
The cost of the protests will surely be paid by businesses affected by the marches and road blockades.
But most importantly, the children will be affected, who will miss one more day of classes given the lock-down nature of this conflict which seems to have no end.