Labour tensions in the education sector have escalated after teachers in Buenos Aires Province rejected an offer from Governor María Eugenia Vidal administration of a 19-percent pay rise.
Union leaders said they would not accept any offer below 30 percent, a number based on the national government's estimates for 2018 inflation. They said they were calling an immediate three-day strike for next week in response.
The Vidal government's latest offer – which provincial officials said included a promise to review the situation in October – comes amid 190 days of conflict, which has included strikes, threats, litigation and court-ordered mediation. The last offer, involving increments, totalled 16.7 percent, including 1.7 percent worth of teaching materials.
Teachers responding to unions that compose the Teachers Union Unity Front (FGUD) will carry out a 72-hour strike on August 28 to 30.
"The proposal was rejected because it does not translate into a real increase in wages and it does not foresee the application of a trigger cause, which is a demand we have maintained since the beginning of negotiations and which takes on special meaning given the rising inflation in our country," the FGUD said in a statement.
Tensions are particularly high between unions and the provincial government following a recent tragedy at a Buenos Aires school in Moron, where a gas explosion killed two staff members just minutes before students were due to arrive for classes.
For his part, influential SUTEBA union boss Roberto Baradel said "we just left a meeting without being offered anything in the way of infrastructure. If Governor Vidal is listening to us, we want answers."
Responding, provincial Labour Minister Marcelo Villegas, harshly questioned the decision to call a 72-hour strike, branding the move as a political manoeuvre.
Speaking to Radio Mitre, Villegas said the Vidal administration's offer had come "after 18 meetings and nine proposals" and was based on "reality, because the economy has given us the news it has given us. "
According to the INDEC national statistics bureau, inflation for the year so far up until July totalled 19.6 percent.