Argentine teachers strike, leaving 4.5 million students with no classes

Buenos Aires, May 27 (EFE).- Teachers in Argentina's richest and most-populous province on Monday began a two-day strike to demand pay hikes, leaving some 4.5 million students with no classes.

The new job action was launched despite the fact that the Buenos Aires provincial government had warned it would dock the teachers' pay for the days they did not work.

"We're demanding that the discussion be resumed on the salary negotiation, which the government said was finished with an increase of 22 percent when we were demanding 30 percent," a spokesman for the Buenos Aires Educators Association told Efe.

Some 98 percent of the teachers joined the strike, the spokesperson said.

The provincial government proposal starting in March set the minimum teacher's salary at 3,248 pesos ($616.30) a month, from which point it would be increased gradually to $648 in December.

However, the teachers are demanding a base salary of $948.70 a month.

The teachers planned a 96-hour strike, 48 hours of which will be undertaken starting Monday while the other two days will be taken if the provincial administration continues to refuse to respond to their demands.

So far this year, Buenos Aires teachers have already staged eight strikes and the conflict worsened when the government unilaterally ended the pay negotiations.