As we went to press, teachers in Oaxaca city were planning to take strike action in a further sign of the revival of the movement which rose to prominence last year.
The action was backed by the APPO popular committee, which led the mobilisations last year. Students pledged to join the action, holding conferences and discussions in schools.
Section 22 of the SNTE teachers’ union planned to march to the zócalo (central square) as part of national action called for by the rank and file CNTE movement. A teacher work stoppage will take place in Huatulco on the Oaxaca southern coast. The two day strike is largely in protest against the decimation of social security.
A new government law has eliminated across the board benefits in the pension system of government workers (that includes teachers, who are federal employees), known as the ISSSTE. Those in this system can no longer count on a life pension based on their work history. Pensions will now be individual and determined exclusively by savings put aside during their employment.
In late April 2,000 delegates from the Sindicato de Burócratas, the office workers and administrators’ union, managed to march into the zócalo. This is the first time a march has broken the police barricade since last November, when APPO was driven out by security forces.
The struggles look set to escalate. Section 22 continues to demand the resignation of the state governor, and is planning another march on 15 May Teachers’ Day. On 14 June the first anniversary of the attack on the teachers’ encampment, another mobilisation is planned.
Teachers in Iran took nationwide strikes on 15 and 16 April, with nearly all the schools in Tehran shut. Teachers in Esfahan, Tabriz and other major towns and cities also took action. Secondary schools were reported shut, while some primary schools remained open but no teaching took place.
Called by the Teachers' Trade Association of Iran (Kanoon e Senfi e Moalleman e Iran), the strike followed March’s massive protests over pay and conditions, which ended in the arrest of hundreds of teachers as the security forces tried to crush the revolt.
The April strikes were pre-planned and went ahead in spite of the mass arrests, harassment and intimidation by the government. In the city of Kerman, the city's education chief accused the teachers of “conspiracy against the system”, following which several teachers were arrested. In Eslam-Shahr teachers were threatened. They were told not to assemble in the school. In Homayoon-Shahr in Esfahan Province, four teachers were summoned to the Information Ministry and detained.
Teachers are planning further action in early May
Workers from Sanitarios Maracay in Venezuela, which has been occupied and run under workers’ control for more than five months, were subjected to brutal repression on Tuesday 24 April.
Workers were travelling by bus to Caracas to participate in a national march called by FRETECO, the Revolutionary Front of Workers in Occupied Factories. The workers have demanded that the company be nationalised under workers’ control.
Workers were stopped by Aragua state police, following orders of the regional governor Didalco Bolivar. Bolivar is a leading member of PODEMOS, one of the main parties in the coalition that has been supported Chávez, but is opposed to the new PSUV ruling party.
After being stopped, workers started a protest which was then brutally repressed by Aragua police and members of the National Guard. Fourteen workers were wounded, some of them by buckshot pellets. Twenty-five were arrested, amongst them one of the main leaders of the factory occupation and of the Sanitarios Maracay workers' union, Jose Villegas. Although they were released the following day, the incident illustrates the precarious situation facing workers in Venezuela.