May 31, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 5/30/2013
Mexico’s biggest airline Aeromexico is negotiating with its flight attendants in an attempt to settle a contract dispute and stave off a strike threatened for midnight Friday. Grupo Aeromexico SAB is offering Aeromexico attendants wage increases in line with inflation over the next three years and a 2% productivity bonus, but also requiring cheaper and more flexible contracts for new hires. Annual inflation is currently at 4.7%.
ASSA, the union representing Aeromexico’s 1,380 flight attendants, opposes the new contracts, which it alleges would cut overall remuneration for new hires by 60%. It has demanded that the proposal be taken off the table. The union had lowered its wage demand to 5% from 10% and called for a 3% bonus. The negotiations are being overseen by the Labor Ministry, which expressed confidence that the two sides could come to an agreement.
May 13, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 5/12/2013
Mexican students studying to be teachers released a hostage on Wednesday—in the municipality of Nahuatzen—due to concerns about his health. But they continue to hold five others. The students are supported by the Michoacán State Teachers Organization, which warned that the remaining captives, who are state policemen, would be freed only when a demand for 1,200 new teaching jobs is met.
The Mexican standoff, now a week old, is only the latest example of a teacher-union rebellion against recent amendments to the Mexican constitution aimed at improving public education. Institutional Revolutionary Party President Enrique Peña Nieto has made it a priority to fix the broken public-education system. But eager reformers are often tested by politically powerful interests in their first year in office. The teachers believe they can make him back down.
April 29, 2013
ABC News/Univision, 4/26/13
A Mexican teachers’ strike that began two months ago turned violent this week, with rebel “maestros” looting, burning and partially destroying the offices of Mexico’s three main political parties in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state. The looting started after a peaceful march in which teachers had gone to the Guerrero State Assembly to protest a local law, that reinforces the Mexican President’s plans for education reform.
President Enrique Peña Nieto wants to improve Mexico’s weak education system by obliging teachers in Guerrero and elsewhere to take standardized tests in order to keep their jobs. His national education law would also put the government in charge of hiring teachers, a process that is currently controlled by teachers unions.
April 26, 2013
The New York Times, 4/25/13
One of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s signature efforts to shake up the country — a broad plan to overhaul the education system — has run into violent protests that underscore how difficult it may be to carry out, particularly in some volatile states with poor academic performance. Armed with iron rods and rocks, dozens of masked members of the teachers’ union in Guerrero State attacked the local offices of the four major political parties on Wednesday, smashing windows and overturning furniture. They also set fire to the office of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to which Mr. Peña Nieto belongs.
On Thursday, in a further sign of the growing conflict over education changes, teachers marched down Mexico City’s main boulevard, temporarily closing it down. The education overhaul, which transfers power from the potent teachers’ union to the federal government, proposes periodic teacher evaluations to determine appointments, salaries and dismissals — a major adjustment for workers who are accustomed to buying or inheriting their positions and who have had, until now, virtual immunity from the state.
Click here for pictures and video of the riots.
April 25, 2013
The Washington Post, 4/24/13
Striking teachers in Mexico’s Guerrero state attacked the offices of four political parties and a building of the state’s education department Wednesday after the legislature approved an education reform without meeting their demands.
Dozens of teachers carrying sticks and stones smashed windows, spray-painted insults at President Enrique Pena Nieto on walls and destroyed computers and furniture. They set fire to the state headquarters of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party and another building. No injuries were reported as the teachers, some masked, ran wild after a protest march in the state capital of Chilpancingo.
April 19, 2013
The Economist, 4/18/13
Some wear genteel straw hats, others red bandanas hiding their faces. Some carry parasols, others sticks and metal rods that they brandish sullenly. The motley crew of middle-class teachers and their rough-necked supporters in the south-western state of Guerrero hardly look like a force to be reckoned with. Yet their protest represents a challenge to the new government of Enrique Peña Nieto. How he copes will influence a reform agenda that he is pushing forward at lightning speed.
The protests come from an unexpected quarter. When prosecutors arrested Elba Esther Gordillo, the caudillo-like head of the National Education Workers’ Union (SNTE), on February 26th on charges of embezzlement and money laundering, it looked as if Mr Peña had removed the main obstacle to a constitutional reform on education signed the day before. The reform’s backers were delighted that he had struck against a union that for decades had held sway over education policy.
April 16, 2013
Associated Press, 4/14/13
Easter vacation was over, but there wasn’t a teacher in sight at the boarding school for indigenous children on the edge of this sunbaked southern Mexico hill town. A 37-year-old cook who hadn’t finished high school sat between two little girls on a cement stoop outside the kitchen, peering at their dog-eared notebooks as they struggled with the alphabet and basic multiplication. “I’ve got the children here. If there aren’t any classes while they’re here, I have to teach them,” said the cook, who shared only her first name, Gudelia, for fear of retaliation from striking teachers.
A short drive away, teachers marched by the thousands through the streets of the state capital, some masked and brandishing metal bars and sticks in an escalating showdown over education reform that’s become a key test of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s sweeping project to reform Mexico’s most dysfunctional institutions.