Colombian teachers conducted a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, the third time this year they have taken such action over what the main teachers union, FECODE, says are unfulfilled government agreements from the massive nationwide strike last year.
In May and June 2017, teachers across Colombia staged a 37-day strike over a series of issues affecting labour conditions and educational standards in the public education system, including low salaries, pensions, poor infrastructure and increased privatisation. The strike ended after FECODE and the government reached an agreement for higher state investment but, according to the union, the government has met only a third of its obligations.
Teachers also say they face worsening security conditions, with their profession targeted in an escalation of violence against civil society activists since 2016. According to FECODE president Carlos Rivas, ‘this year we have seven murdered teachers. In the past 20 years, we have 1,200 teachers murdered. Teachers have a right to life, and as social subjects, and as such we are defenders of peace and democracy’.
The strike saw demonstrations in major Colombian cities like Bogota, Medellin, Barranquilla and Cali. Further industrial action is likely unless a resolution can be found.