Peru's Kuczynski tells striking teachers to return to work

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 16, 2017 10:36 PM

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski urged striking public school teachers to go back to work on Wednesday and reject violence after they clashed with police in a protest to demand higher wages.

Raising teacher salaries was a campaign promise from Kuczynski and the strike, more than two months old in some regions of Peru, has contributed to his approval rating falling to an all-time low in August.

"My purpose today is to call on the teachers to go back to their classrooms," Kuczynski said in a televised address to the nation. "I have listened to them and I will always listen to teachers, but never, never will I accept violence and intimidation."

He admitted that teachers have not had a significant salary increase for more than a decade but said his government had given them a raise and there would be another one at the end of the year. Kuczynski said the minimum wage would rise 30 percent to 2,000 soles ($617) per month.

Earlier on Wednesday unions representing teachers marched through downtown Lima and police threw tear gas at them outside Congress, where the education minister was presenting.

Kuczynski said he rejected the "violent ideologies" present in some groups at the protests.

(Reporting by Teresa Cespedes; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Michael Perry)