The president of the Asociación Nacional de Educadores (ANDE) – National Association of Educators – Gilberto Cascante, told the Comisión de Asuntos Sociales – Legislative Commission on Social Affairs – that his union organization is adamantly opposed to education being declared an essential service.
He referred to a legislative initiative that aims to create a specific list of public services that could be considered essential and, consequently, which could not go on strike.
“The fact that a child unfortunately does not receive education could make him more ignorant, with less possibilities for life, but he will not necessarily die because he does not have this right, although it is an extremely important service,” the leader of one of the strongest and most influential unions in the country told legislators.
Cascante recognized however that education is a “fundamental right”.
The union leader argued that, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), education is not an essential service because “it does not deteriorate the quality of life” of people.
He added that the only intention to include education as an essential service is to prohibit workers (teachers in this case) from striking as a measure of pressure against their employer, the Ministry of Public Education (MEP).
In addition, he argued that extending the list to include education as an essential service would be a “violation of the principles of reasonableness” and that it would be “disproportionate”.
Pressed on the issue by legislator Nidia Céspedes, that during the 89 day strike last year students went without the lunch program, Cascante denied any responsibility of the teachers in the suspension of the school canteen service, but insisted that “the teacher is not the one who offers that service, but the Ministry of Public Education”.