Caracas, May 20, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) - The Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro approved a 50% salary increase for the country's 713,231 teachers on Tuesday, following several months of negotiations with the Venezuelan Teachers' Federation (FMV) and other unions.
"I will defend the minimum wage and continue defending it [...] for all public workers as well," announced the socialist leader on his regular television program.
"I call for the defence of the right to education, from those who want to sabotage it for political reasons."
The government also allocated funds to pay pension benefits for 15,000 teachers owed payment from last year, which together with the salary raise will go into effect on June 1.
The measures were applauded by Wills Rangel, general secretary of the Union of Bolivarian Socialist Workers (CBST), who considered them further “proof that the Bolivarian Revolution guarantees the social and contractual rights of all of our workers."
The government move follows a one day teachers' strike demanding a salary increase on Thursday, which the FMV claims mobilized 75% of the nation's teachers. The Ministry of Education maintains that almost 99% of schools remained open.
The strike was supported by the Venezuelan opposition and the rightwing media, who in turn seized the opportunity to call for further anti-government mobilizations by teachers.
However, the steps taken by the government appear to have put a halt to efforts by the opposition to co-opt the teachers' demands, says Roraima Mujica Bartolme, spokesperson for the PSUV youth and Ministry of Education official.
"After the [government's] announcement, the corporate mass media were left silent, evidencing the collapse of the narrative they were spinning a few days ago regarding street protests and strikes in the educational sector," she told venezuelanalysis.
The salary raise represents part of the Bolivarian Revolution's commitment to paying the "social debt" to the oppressed and exploited by dramatically increasing social spending directed towards state programs and missions.
Last year, the World Bank ranked Venezuela among the top ten nations for highest educational spending as a percentage of GDP.