Schoolteachers in the state of Morelos today complete their 48th day of an indefinite strike against proposed a educational reform being forced through by their union leader which would remove their job security. Yesterday their march was joined by other teachers from around the country.
As well as striking, the teachers - from Sección 19 of the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores para la Educación (SNTE) - have established a plantón (permanent encampment) in the city of Cuernavaca and also have employed motorway blockades, the "liberation" of tollbooths and even marched 85km north to Mexico City in order to demand the reform's reversal.
The reform bill, named the Alianza por la Calidad de la Educación (ACE: The Educational Quality Alliance), was negotiated between Elba Ester Gordillo, the SNTE head, and the federal government, of whom Gordillo is a prominent supporter and crony, to the extent of organising a rival scab union branches in order to break a 2006 strike of her own union members in Oaxaca. In a country renowned for its charrista, government-controlled unions, Gordillo stands out as an extreme example.
Teachers say that the ACE will strip them of any sort of security in their positions and jeopardise their ability to plan classes. The bill has already seen direct action from teachers in the states of Quintana Roo, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacán and Veracruz. Strikes have been called, party propaganda (from all three main Mexican parties) has been burnt, state education offices occupied, encampments erected in the capital city of every active state and school students have offered solidarity (although parents - especially in Morelos - have been less keen).
Marching teachers in Morelos were yesterday pleasantly surprised to hear the approaching chants of "BROTHERS FROM MORELOS, OAXACA WILL GIVE YOU A HAND!" and "HOLD ON MORELOS, OAXACA WILL RISE UP!", coming from the Oaxacan SNTE delegation who had finally arrived - accompanied by other delegations from Zacatecas, Puebla, Tlaxcala and Veracruz - to offer solidarity mid-march.
The movement is spearheaded by a growing and influential rank and file group within the SNTE which calls itself the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores para la Educación (CNTE: National Coordination of Education Workers), set up in the aftermath of Gordillo et al's treacherous betrayal of the Oaxacan teachers' strike of 2006.
In Morelos, the teachers vow to continue their strike until the ACE is dropped and allegedly plan to disrupt parliamentary elections scheduled for this Sunday. Libcom will keep you posted.