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Mexico: SNTE Congress elects leaders and confirms unity amidst challenging times

The Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, in an extraordinary Congress, modified its statutes, including adopting a provision that 50 per cent of its leadership positions must be held by women. They elected their leadership and strengthened their commitment to achieve improved teachers’ working and living conditions and quality public education.

February 2018 was a notable month for the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE), as its VII Extraordinary National Congress, held from 12-14 February, brought in statutory reform and elected a new national leadership for 2018-2024. Over 3,700 SNTE delegates from all over the country participated in the congress.

Significant decisions

During the congress, SNTE amended its constitution to become the first trade union in Latin America to ensure that women occupy 50 per cent of its leadership positions.

The SNTE national governing bodies, in compliance with the mandate given by the national congress, held their first meeting. At this, they outlined the union’s 2018-2024 work plan, establishing as a priority union members’ working conditions and professional development, as well as the defence of public education.

The SNTE leaders also committed to continue fighting for the recognition of education workers’ rights and benefits, as expressed in the union’s national list of demands for 2018.

They also agreed to maintain pressure on the federal government to stop the pauperisation of the teaching profession. They will undertake decisive actions, not only to guarantee education workers’ job security and improve their quality of life, but also to strengthen the national education system.

Focus on educators’ professionalisation

“There is a space [in the SNTE] for all those who want to build a better union,” said Juan Díaz de la Torre, the union’s newly elected President. He called for a transformation of the union “from the bottom up”, and highlighted professionalisation as the most important issue.

“Teachers are in favour of public policies leading to the strengthening of public schools and education, and resources for professional training,” stressed Díaz de la Torre. However, they are against “anyone who attempts to go against the unity of the profession or pretends to take away any of our gains”.

“We have to stay united, keep fighting at national level, so that there is a national union of education workers that is solid, strong, active and alive, and allows us to feel proud. In unity we stand, for the recognition, prevalence and strength of our organisation: for education at the service of the people.”

Congratulating SNTE President for his election, EI General Secretary emeritus Fred van Leeuwen noted that “this result is a clear sign of the confidence you enjoy along with the Mexican teaching profession, which recognises your leadership and your determined work to make the SNTE an even more effective union in the defense of our profession and the struggle for a quality public education.”

He also congratulated SNTE “for the success of this great democratic exercise and reiterate our willingness to continue strengthening the ties that unite us, working together for a stronger trade union movement”.

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