SANTIAGO – Chilean teachers ended the strike they have maintained for 57 days to reject the bill to redefine the conditions of their employment and they will now return to negotiations with the government.
Representatives of the teachers from all over the country decided at an assembly to suspend “the strike and resume the dialogue with the Education Ministry within a fixed time.”
The strike has affected some 2,500 schools.
According to what Jaime Gajardo, the president of the main teachers union, told reporters later, the move is a “starting point” for resolving the conflict, but he added that “points that we still consider weak and which require modification (need to be) renegotiated.”
“We will ask to meet soon with (Education) Minister Adriana Delpiano,” he added at a press conference.
The union chief also said that a national assembly will be held to decide the movement’s future, after last Thursday the lower house of Congress approved the government’s bill in general.
That decision was considered a failure for a faction of the teachers who were demanding that the government withdraw the legislation from Congress with an eye toward designing a new bill with the active participation of the union.
The sector, which did not attend the meeting on Monday, last Friday held its own assembly, at which it was agreed to ask the rank and file whether or not they wanted to continue with the strike.
The teaching bill is one of the emblematic pieces of legislation of the government of Michelle Bachelet, who is promoting a broad reform of the educational system with the stated aim of providing free, high-quality schooling at all levels.
The union’s main objection to the education bill centers on a proposal to test teachers on their knowledge of specific academic subjects, a provision critics say will become a tool to stigmatize teachers.
Union members are also unhappy about the expected involvement of for-profit firms in the evaluation process.