The News
Saturday 25 of May 2024

SNTE Reappears

Public Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño Mayer,photo: Cuartoscuro/Moisés Pablo
Public Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño Mayer,photo: Cuartoscuro/Moisés Pablo
In the eyes of many SNTE has clearly upstaged CNTE

Up until last week, attention has focused on the economic havoc the insurgent National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union has been carrying out in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Mexico City.

Yet suddenly and literally out of nowhere, the National Education Workers Union (SNTE) demanded Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño to fix what they consider wrong with the implementation of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Education Reform, which literally has the nation on the brink of a political abyss.

In case you’re wondering what the difference between SNTE and CNTE (in order of importance) are, there are many answers, but here are some facts that separate the two.

SNTE is, first of all, Latin America’s largest labor union with over a million registered members and has almost direct control over contracts with the Public Education Secretariat (SEP). It boasts nationwide representation.

CNTE, on the other hand, is a splinter group rooted in Mexico’s left-wing movements and has shed roots mostly in the Meso American side of the nation; its membership is no larger than approximately 200,000 teachers.

CNTE has declared war on the SNTE “charros” (meaning traitors) and it negotiates its contracts with SEP separately, though over past administration, SEP has tried to keep a semblance of contract unity and similarity.

The second and major difference nowadays is that CNTE is furiously demanding President Peña Nieto to back down on his Education Reform and reverse it. They won’t negotiate nor settle for less than a total cancellation of the Education Reform.

Up until last Wednesday, the SNTE leadership had kept a low profile letting CNTE get the top headlines in the media with their now infamous road blockades and marches clogging Mexico City traffic on a daily-basis. It’s gotten so bad that even Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera has repeatedly requested that they solve their problem in their states of origin, but CNTE leaders have paid no heed and have established the nation’s capital as their battle ground.

SNTE leader Juan Díaz de la Torre (JDT for short) met with Secretary Aurelio Nuño “to demand respect” for the benefits acquired in labor contract negotiations with SEP officials.

JDT clearly told Nuño that the Education Reform had breached many of the education workers’ rights in is application, since it was approved by both houses of Congress in 2013, and told Nuño that he was there to negotiate “in defense of the rights, the dignity and the prestige of the nation’s teachers and to reaffirm the labor certainty of the teaching guild.”

JDT then gave Secretary Nuño a 10-point set of demands which starts with revision of the Education Reform. He’s not calling for the toppling — as CNTE vociferously is — of the Education Reform but for a strategic restructuring of some of the labor policies applied, such as revising the evaluation procedures, stopping layoffs of teachers who have not presented evaluating tests, and respecting payment according to the contract negotiated by SNTE, including a 35 percent wage hike to those teachers who approved the evaluation tests that the Peña Nieto administration has not complied.

Well, to make a long story short, Secretary Nuño immediately responded yes to all of the SNTE union demands and negotiations last Friday evening behind closed doors. Negotiators will announce their results for a “reasonable interpretation” of changes both in the Education Reform and wage agreements when they are ready.

But the fact that SNTE did not hit the street and road blockades button to pressure the administration is a contrasting difference with the belligerent attitude shown by the CNTE minority.

It must be said that Secretary Nuño was pushed to admit this negotiation and he showed an attitude of near disgust but, as a felon said when a foe put a gun to his head, “negotiation, I’ve always believed in negotiation.”

In the eyes of many SNTE has clearly upstaged CNTE. Furthermore, SNTE with a true union-boss labor negotiation may now regain some of the ground lost to the nearly devastating virulent onslaught CNTE has wrought with its “war” declaration, not against the Education Secretariat, but “against the federal government.”

What’s going to come of it? CNTE will definitely not let up in its war against Peña Nieto but the forceful reappearance of the SNTE-SEP round of negotiations will smoothen many of the rough points the CNTE radicals are unwilling to deal with.

Most importantly, the SNTE reappearance trumpets the return of the overwhelming majority in the teaching profession in Mexico as a negotiating powerhouse.