The Río Negro teachers union rejected four salary increase offers in 45 days. Provincial elections play strong within the internal union scene.
It was more than 15 years ago. The one who listened attentively was an up-and-coming leader of ATE. And the one who spoke, a consolidated referent of the Unter. “Before entering, the important thing in a conflict is knowing how to get out”, It was the teaching of that teacher, who at that point had battled against the governments of Pablo Verani, Miguel Saiz and who had also known the disqualifications of Carlos Soria.
That advice, which the ATE leader applied efficiently over and over again in the ensuing decade, does not seem to have arrived in time for the current leadership of the Río Negro education workers union.
One month will be fulfilled tomorrow from the beginning of the school year in the province and Unter cannot leave behind the labyrinth that she entered with impetus, but that today she runs through with signs of loss.
The initial push was logical. A government campaigning to retain power, with elections on the horizon, it’s easy target to get a salary guideline above the national average.
What the provincial leadership does not seem to have read in time is that the electoral process of April 16 was also being played inside the union and that the lack of votes to control decisions in the organization’s congresses exposed them to a very high risk.
The idea of getting a little more out of him quickly turned into an opportunity to complicate the government until the hours before the polls and then nothing was enough for the union.which rejected four offers in 45 daysreaching the culminating point with last week’s ignorance of the mandatory conciliation dictated by Labor.
It is true that the government contributed to this bellicose present, from some inexperience. Initiating parallel and informal negotiations with the sector that lost the Unter elections last October only served to radicalize the union’s ruling party.
In this way, in addition to being challenged by the leftist sectors and by the groups adherents to Peronism that will confront Juntos Somos Río Negro, Education also reaped the anger of the Azul Arancibia sector.
The eight days of strike resolved this week left teachers far from their allies ATE and Sitrajur. And they even managed the public unit of Carreras and Weretilneck.
The problem is that this legitimate malaise became a fight plan taken out of any context.
The Unter decreed eight days of unemployment in three weeks at the same time that ATE -one of its allies in the State Union Front- accepted the increase offered by the government for March, asking to continue negotiating for the coming months.
Sitrajur, the third member of that union coalition, also rejected the initial proposals of the STJ, but limited his protests to a day of inactivity and some demonstrations in the buildings of the Judiciary.
The teachers were so out of focus with their measures that they achieved what nobody could during the last weeks: a coordinated public action between the governor, Arabela Carreras, and senator Alberto Weretilneck.
The candidate for governor for JSRN came from strong censorship of the president, first for her joint announcement with ATE for the permanent plant of 3,100 state and then for the erratic security policies. However, this week she sided with her and exposed Unter – especially her leadership – as an unreliable union, seeking to compromise the state with resources it does not have.
This harmony between the political and institutional powers seems to have marked a green light within the government, which activated unprecedented pressure mechanisms on teacherssuch as the computer system to notify attendance at the workplace.
Under this maximum level of tension, tomorrow the Teaching Congress will meet again, to decide whether or not to comply with the mandatory conciliation.
And without entering into the debate on the powers of this union body to comply or not with a law, what cannot be lost sight of is the difference between Unter and other national unions to expose themselves to sanctions in the event of rebellion.
“With ATE, UPCN, Camioneros or UTA, everyone knows that if you play something here, it involves an entire national structure. With Unter, beyond any political solidarity, everything legal begins and ends within the province”, warned an experienced reference from the trade union world.
One more reason to keep in mind the maxim of that leader and begin to resolve how to get out of the conflict, before it becomes unmanageable.