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Thousands of Chilean teachers march for higher pay

Thousands of Chilean teachers march for higher pay

Thousands of public school teachers marched peacefully in the capital on Tuesday to demand higher pay, amid heavy police security following violent student protests earlier this year.
Police said some 2,000 people took part in the 20-block march to the Education Ministry, while independent radio reports put the number closer to 5,000.
Authorities said small groups of students threw lemons at police afterward, causing them to fire back with water cannons and tear gas and leading to 68 arrests. No injuries were reported.
The march, including teachers of all ages, snaked down a boulevard to the Education Ministry, where leaders made speeches and delivered a petition demanding higher pay, among other things.
"We need unity from everyone. We need to demonstrate that we are going to advance as one and we are here demonstrating that and proving that we can march peacefully to demand the government listen to us," said Jorge Pavez, president of the teachers' union.
Education Ministry officials said only about a quarter of the nation's public school teachers participated in the strike, and that 69 percent of students attended classes Tuesday. Pavez said 80 percent of the teachers heeded the strike call.
Teachers have complained that negotiations for higher pay have dragged on too long and that the government has not been flexible enough. They have called for at least a 5 percent salary hike as well as other benefits, including incentives for teachers over 60 to retire early.
Government authorities said their demands would create a drain of 370 million pesos (US$685 million; euro540 million) on Chile's annual budget.
Teachers, however, argue their salary demand would only boost spending by US$100 million (euro79 million), and say soaring prices for Chilean copper have boosted the government's revenue.
Tuesday's rally follows protests by hospital workers and other groups.
In June, new leftist President Michelle Bachelet's government ended a three-week revolt by hundreds of thousands of high school students demanding concessions in education _ including better-built schools, subsidies for public transport and free school lunches.
The revolt was Chile's biggest since democracy was restored in 1990.
The students won US$200 million (euro157 million) in spending _ a 2.78 percent increase in the annual education budget _ and representation on a presidential panel proposing sweeping reforms.
The students had targeted a particularly unpopular law from the final days of the 1973-1990 dictatorship that shifted most responsibility for funding education from government to municipalities, causing wide gaps in quality between rich and poor areas.
"It's going to fall! It's going to fall!" protesters chanted Tuesday, referring to the law.


Updated : 2021-10-27 20:31 GMT+08:00