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 Members of the Puerto Rican teachers' union 

Members of the Puerto Rican teachers’ union were threatening strike action from the 1st February if their demands for a pay rise and increased spending for schools are not met.

Teachers are demanding an 18% increase in their pay as well as a significant increase in education spending to reduce oversized classes and mend the school infrastructure.

 

Teachers in Puerto Rico earn a third less than any teacher on the US mainland and yet prices there are often higher than in the USA. Teachers who take part in a strike could face dismissal because of a state law which forbids ‘disruption of the public education system.’ Evidently this law does not apply to the underfunding of education in Puerto Rico which is so extreme that many teachers and learners are having to work in mouldy, crumbling and rat infested buildings. Many teachers feel they have nothing to lose by going on strike since conditions are often intolerable and they will not be able to stay in their jobs unless their salaries are improved.

 

The Education Secretary Rafael Aragunde has said that the government has invested $150 million in school buildings over the last four years and that teachers cannot expect drastic improvements. This is little comfort to the teachers and learners working in the teritory’s underfunded education service.