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Thousands of Argentine teachers march to demand higher pay

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Tens of thousands of teachers from across Argentina have marched through the capital, Buenos Aires, demanding higher salaries that would keep pace with the high inflation rate in the Latin American country.

Argentinian teachers from different neighborhoods rallied toward the presidential palace in Buenos Aires for a second day on Wednesday, calling for a 24-percent raise and a trigger clause in their contracts that would increase salaries to match the 25-percent inflation and compete with the steady devaluation of Argentinian peso.

The Confederation of Education Workers of the Argentine Republic (Ctera), which organized the event, said some 150,000 people had taken part in the demonstration.

Teachers’ unions in Argentina have been negotiating with government officials over the pay hike for months, but the government says it can only increase the salaries up to 15 percent. The teachers have rejected the proposal.

Sonia Alesso, a spokesperson for Ctera, said that over the past year, “everything changed for the worse” because teachers had not been allowed to push for their demands at the negotiating table.

“Here we are — all teachers in the country — fighting, demanding the resolution of conflicts,” Alesso added.

The protesters also slammed government-imposed austerity policies and the way President Mauricio Macri has governed since taking office two years ago.

The Argentinian president has recently requested a 30-billion-dollars loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to shore up the tumbling national currency, a decision that has come under harsh criticism from the majority of citizens.

The measure, allegedly designed to boost market confidence, has sparked fears of a repeat of the 2001-2002 financial crisis that many blamed on IMF policy prescriptions adopted by the government.

The crisis culminated in a debt default and currency devaluation that left millions of middle-class Argentines in destitute.

“It (IMF activity) has always harmed our countries and Latin America, leading to layoffs, austerity, and hunger for education workers,” Alesso said.

The protesters have said they will hold a new rally in the capital on Friday.

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