Teachers union raises stakes in its battle with Pena Nieto

Peña Nieto clearly hopes this will be the beginning of the end of months of damaging protests by a union whose defiance was making the government look ineffectual.
Peña Nieto clearly hopes this will be the beginning of the end of months of damaging protests by a union whose defiance was making the government look ineffectual.

By Jude Webber / Financial Times

It has been a tough 10 days for Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto. First the country’s top drug lord broke out of jail. Then the first auction of his flagship energy reform flopped.

And now, he faces a bruising battle with a dissident teachers’ union determined to sink his overhaul of the country’s ailing education system.

The CNTE rallied its members to stage strikes and protests in four states after Oaxaca Gov. Gabino Cué on Tuesday ejected the union from its 22-year stranglehold on education in the southern state.

The move, co-ordinated with Peña Nieto’s government, was equivalent to throwing down the gauntlet to a union that has paralysed implementation of the education reform in Oaxaca and three other states. “They will not take what is ours,” Rubén Nuñez, a leader of the Oaxaca chapter of the union, vowed at a rally in the city’s main square as the union prepared to define its full response on Wednesday.

“This is a really important, even brave announcement,” said Marco Fernández, a professor at the Tecnológico de Monterrey and researcher at the México Evalúa and Wilson Center think-tanks. “Unavoidably there will be conflict in the coming days.”

Although investors have given more attention to the government’s energy reform, lifting education standards is considered vital to Mexico’s ambitions to boost productivity and vault into the advanced, high-income economy bracket.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/640d606e-3044-11e5-8873-775ba7c2ea3d.html#axzz3gdUR7MxD

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