## Are Argentine education strikes justified?

Hi! This is my first time posting here, although I have been browsing several posts for some months now. I appreciate your community's approach to truth and its skepticism, and I thought perhaps you could help me analyze this issue more efficiently.

I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina (South America) and right now we argentines are slowly but steadily shifting in the direction of economical and political chaos, mostly due to the last 3 presidential mandates from the same party.

Teaching, to me one of the most vital professions in a democracy, has also been one of the most ignored in my country. Teachers are poorly payed (a truck or subway driver earns several times more than them, actually) while our government spends hundreds of millions on demagogical projects and corrupted political deals.

During the past month, salary negotiations failed and the state refused to grant a rise to them (despite the presently uncontrollable 20-30% annual rise in inflation). Partly because of that and partly because of some shameful remarks from our president herself, they have decided to go into a nationwide strike for (up to now) two days, a resort very common among all syndicates here.

My question, then, is as follows:

Is depriving all of the children of a country of their education worth it? In other words, I understand the other ways have been unsuccesful in getting them what's due, but is affecting the innocent justified because of that?

I've spent some hours debating this with some people on Facebook and all they could come up with (they all had a marxist background, btw) is that strikes have historically been the best resource available to the working class when the state remains unresponsive, and that teachers would give a "good example to the kids" because they would be fighting for their rights.

I replied asking them precisely and briefly about the real ethics behind a strike (not its historical background) and then asking them if denying the basic right of education for a rise in pay (be it justified or not) would actually be a good example to a kid. Of course, from then on their responses degenerated into strawmen and ad hominem fallacies or simply prejudice, internal contradictions and disguised hate. I would attach the whole conversation, but the language barrier would probably make you miss most of it.

Thank you guys in advance for taking the time to read all of this.
 PhysOrg.com science news on PhysOrg.com >> New language discovery reveals linguistic insights>> US official: Solar plane to help ground energy use (Update)>> Four microphones, computer algorithm enough to produce 3-D model of simple, convex room

Mentor
Blog Entries: 1
 Quote by Arpegius Is depriving all of the children of a country of their education worth it? In other words, I understand the other ways have been unsuccesful in getting them what's due, but is affecting the innocent justified because of that?
Welcome to the forums! I'm unfortunately not clued up on internal Argentinian affairs (I'm from the UK and all news regarding Argentina is focused on our relationship) but I'm sorry to hear about the situation your teachers are in. Education is one of the most important things in a society and it needs to be properly funded. Regarding the strike I'm tentatively afraid to say that it probably is necessary, strikes stir up widespread public and political attention and force a situation to progress.

Perhaps you could provide some links to good sources that explain the situation well? Welcome again!
 Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor Staff Emeritus If the strike is successful, then you are more likely to have good teachers. In the long run, that benefits the children.

Mentor
Blog Entries: 4

## Are Argentine education strikes justified?

Everything I can find on this is that it's just a 48 hour strike. No big deal in terms of stopping teaching. I really don't understand why you have a problem with a two day strike.

 Teachers in the Argentine capital launched a 48-hour strike Wednesday for higher pay and to show support for students who have seized control of schools to demand repairs to decaying facilities.
http://laht.com/article.asp?ArticleI...tegoryId=14093
 What's the alternative? Declaring teachers to be "too important to strike" effectively puts them at the mercy of their employers. Should they have no negotiating power at all?

 Quote by HallsofIvy If the strike is successful, then you are more likely to have good teachers. In the long run, that benefits the children.
Is that really true?

I tried looking for a semi-neutral source, but all of the 'strikes = good' arguements came from teacher-union sites and all of the 'strikes = bad' came from very clear anti-teacher union sites.

If the 'strike is successful' then wouldn't it mean that the existing teachers are getting paid more (via increase in benefits or salary) and then the school wouldn't be able to hire more teachers? Also, from my understanding, improving 'existing contracts' often comes at the expense of reduced pay for new hires. (so what few new teachers could be hired would be at a lower portential quality if salary and quality are considered equal from a new-hire competition standpoint)

 Quote by mege If the 'strike is successful' then wouldn't it mean that the existing teachers are getting paid more (via increase in benefits or salary) and then the school wouldn't be able to hire more teachers? Also, from my understanding, improving 'existing contracts' often comes at the expense of reduced pay for new hires. (so what few new teachers could be hired would be at a lower portential quality if salary and quality are considered equal from a new-hire competition standpoint)
I assume they want a larger cut from the state's expenses, so, no, it should only mean a raise and possible better facilitation.

As far as ethics goes, the right to strike is usually only taken away if a strike could result in physical harm. So health-care workers and policemen usually don't have a right to strike.

Then, of course, there are people who argue that any strike is illegal, but I don't really know their arguments.

 Quote by MarcoD I assume they want a larger cut from the state's expenses, so, no, it should only mean a raise and possible better facilitation.
This is probably the largest beef I have with any public worker union (and thus their strikes). Whenever the bargainers want more, it comes from something else of public use or value ('larger cut from state expenses', what gets shrunk then?). There is no 'robber baron' at the top whom is profiting from the 'pitiful wages' at the bottom like there is possible in a large private corporation. Ultimately, a public worker strike of any type results in a sort of thug-democracy because they are overriding the available democratic processes for their own personal gain.

 As far as ethics goes, the right to strike is usually only taken away if a strike could result in physical harm. So health-care workers and policemen usually don't have a right to strike. Then, of course, there are people who argue that any strike is illegal, but I don't really know their arguments.
There is a harm to students whom have working parents. If the school is unavailable to the students (as expected) there is a great burden, ad hoc, put on the parents. This has the potential to put kids in harm by being left alone at home while the parents go to work (as they planned to do before the teacher's decided to abandon their jobs).

A factory strike effects the 'top' of the company (as it's meant to). I don't like strikes, but I fully understand (and respect) the impact they can have on a company. A public worker strike effects the general populace in a multitude of ways (unavailable taxpayer-paid services being the largest), and the effects only grow from there. There is not an 'individual's profit margin' that is harmed in a public worker strike, but instead the public workers are holding the public at large hostage for their demands. Since the only individuals that are generally swayed by a public-worker strike are elected officials (presuming they're the 'other end' of the contract table), we (tax payers) have basically paid for political pressure from a choice group of workers for their own gain.

 Quote by Arpegius Is depriving all of the children of a country of their education worth it? In other words, I understand the other ways have been unsuccesful in getting them what's due, but is affecting the innocent justified because of that?
So for the few days that children can't attend school because teachers want more money, then the children can be taught at home. What's the problem?

Mentor
Blog Entries: 1
 Quote by jduster It's wrong to strike against the public good.
Exactly. By the same token it is right to strike for the public good and if the current situation is not within the public good and striking could make it so then a strike is what must be done.
 Quote by jduster If teachers are unhappy with their job, that's okay. There are plenty of people on the unemployment lines with teaching degrees who would be grateful to have a stable job like that.
Whilst I appreciate the sentiment I disagree entirely. The point here is that the teachers do not have satisfactory working pay, rights etc. The fact that there are other people who may be willing to fulfil that goal is mostly irrelevant to the fact that they deserve (and it would be better for the public) to get better pay and better conditions. By the same argument very few people should ever complain about their jobs because there are unemployed citizens, low-paid immigrants and workers in less developed countries who would jump at the chance of a job.

Mentor
Blog Entries: 1
 Quote by jduster I'm not saying teachers are living high off the hog or that they are never mistreated, but they have it better than many other jobs: - Summers off - Spring/winter breaks - No strenuous labor - No advanced degree required - A job where person's skill and interests are engaged - Progressive (inflation-scaled) pay increased - Pensions (how many private jobs have pensions?)
You are aware that this thread concerns Argentinian teachers and thus many of these may not apply? On top of that even with those things teachers have a very hard job in my country at least (the UK) with excessive working hours during term time (whilst the hours may technically be ~9-5 the extra hours marking, preparing etc take a toll). On top of that teachers do require a degree, job satisfaction varies on the school and public sector pay and pensions are being frozen and cut.

Regardless we should get back on topic to the situation in Argentina.
 I don't understand why teachers would strike. Wrt what they actually do, they make more money than they're worth, imho.

Mentor
Blog Entries: 1
 Quote by ThomasT I don't understand why teachers would strike. Wrt what they actually do, they make more money than they're worth, imho.
Are you trolling or are you actually suggesting that education isn't worth that much? It's been pointed out in this thread that truck drivers earn more than the people who work to educate and enlighten the next generation.

 Quote by Ryan_m_b Are you trolling or are you actually suggesting that education isn't worth that much? It's been pointed out in this thread that truck drivers earn more than the people who work to educate and enlighten the next generation.
The OP asks whether education strikes are justified. I said that I don't understand why teachers would strike ... considering the actual work they do and the money they make.

Also, the tenure system makes it extremely difficult to fire bad teachers. Bad truck drivers or plumbers or electricians, etc., don't make much money. Probably less than bad teachers, I'm guessing.

Mentor
Blog Entries: 1
 Quote by ThomasT The OP asks whether education strikes are justified. I said that I don't understand why teachers would strike ... considering the actual work they do and the money they make. Also, the tenure system makes it extremely difficult to fire bad teachers. Bad truck drivers or plumbers or electricians, etc., don't make much money. Probably less than bad teachers, I'm guessing.
The OP is talking about Argentinian strikes where they do not get paid good money at all. I'm still not sure by what you mean when you say "considering the actual work they do"; what part of working full time, often after and before you finish to plan for the next days/mark current work, dealing with children and having the responsiblity of ensuring a decent education is taught do you think is trivial as you seem to be implying?

Also I have no idea what it is like where you are but Tenure from where I'm from is reserved for select university lecturers, not primary and secondary education teachers and I suspect the same is true in Argentina.

Some more information on the situation:
http://www.teachersolidarity.com/blo...tion/#more-825
 Students and teachers in Buenos Aires, Argentina are joining forces once again to fight for decent public education The teachers are demanding: “the immediate resolution of the problems in the buildings, the creation of new schools, the payment of salaries on time”. Earlier this autumn students occupied their schools demanding repairs and new buildings. See previous post: http://www.teachersolidarity.com/blo...ents/#more-794 Now teachers are demanding the resignation of officials who have tried to force them to give names of students involved in the protests so that they could be arrested.According to the Latin American Herald Tribune, next Wednesday’s strike will be the 28th by teachers against the mayor of Buenos Aires, right wing property tycoon Mauricio Macri. As well as demanding decent buildings and supporting the students the teachers are asking for a pay rise from $475 to$550 per month.

 Quote by Ryan_m_b The OP is talking about Argentinian strikes where they do not get paid good money at all. I'm still not sure by what you mean when you say "considering the actual work they do"; what part of working full time, often after and before you finish to plan for the next days/mark current work, dealing with children and having the responsiblity of ensuring a decent education is taught do you think is trivial as you seem to be implying? Also I have no idea what it is like where you are but Tenure from where I'm from is reserved for select university lecturers, not primary and secondary education teachers and I suspect the same is true in Argentina. Some more information on the situation: http://www.teachersolidarity.com/blo...tion/#more-825
Yes, it appears that teachers are worse off in Argentina than in the US. In their case it seems that strikes are necessary.

Here's another discussion on the topic:

http://baexpats.org/culture/4303-pub...laries-ba.html

 Quote by Ryan_m_b Also I have no idea what it is like where you are but Tenure from where I'm from is reserved for select university lecturers, not primary and secondary education teachers and I suspect the same is true in Argentina.
I'm pretty sure ThomasT is talking about US teachers.

Public grade-school teachers in the US obtain tenure via a permanent contract with similar protections as University Professors. (http://www.education.com/magazine/ar...eacher-tenure/)

Generally speaking a Primary/Secondary educator will be on a per-annum contract for 3-5years before being accepted as a tenured teacher. The idea of grade-school teachers obtaining tenure is a point of contention regarding education reform in the US, and the exact privledges granted by the permanent contract vary slightly state-to-state.

Regardless of the tenure policies in Argentina, should their actual working conditions have a bearing on if they should be able to strike? Should a law be written "Public educators are only allowed to strike if sufficently poor working conditions exist"? Then you're not really preventing the strikes at all. I still think that public worker strikes are in poor taste because the outcome can only really take away from another public good - which is very undemocratic*. The workers of the state are dictating funding arrangements to the government then.

*If the public worker strike is successful, the public worker has essentially 'doubled their influence' on the government. They can vote in general elections and they can hold the government (and tax payers) hostage with their all-in bargaining techniques. This gives them an extreme and (IMO) undue influence on policy. Public workers have a chance to influence policy decisions at the ballot box like everyone else. Why should they be afforded an extra influence?

 Tags education, ethics, morality, politics, strike

 Similar discussions for: Are Argentine education strikes justified? Thread Forum Replies General Discussion 17 Beyond the Standard Model 18 General Discussion 36 General Discussion 107 Current Events 16