Contributed by: Don WinnerThe secretary of the Teachers Association of the Republic of Panama, Andres Rodriguez, gave the Ministry of Education until 2:00 pm today to reinstate him and start a dialog with the teachers. Otherwise, Rodriguez said they will face an indefinite strike by teachers unions, starting tomorrow. The General Secretary of the Trade Union of Construction Workers and Allied (SUNTRACS) Genaro Lopez confirmed yesterday that they would join the strike. Lopez said picketing will be done in buildings on Calle 50 and in Paitilla to protest the decision of the director of the Abel Bravo school Leticia Paddy de Holder to fire the teacher's union leader. Although the notice of dismissal was given on July 31, the teacher continues to go to the campus. Faced with the ultimatum yesterday from the teachers, the Deputy Minister of Education Mirna de Crespo, invited the leaders to "assess the negative consequences" that would be generated by a potential work stoppage. She said taking a rapprochement, MEDUCA would propitiate, in time, through the Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar. (Siglo)
Editor's Comment: Rodriguez knows he doesn't have enough support among the public school teachers to matter, so the SUNTRACS guys are coming out to provide some troops in support. But I doubt they will really go to the mat, either. When they say they will "picket" in front of a building on Calle 50, what that means is they will pull one of their 20 minute lunchtime strikes - in which they come down out of the building where they are working to block traffic for 20 minutes to make a statement - and then they are back on the job and working before the riot police have the time to show up. In other words, a symbolic show of solidarity, but not going "all in" to support Rodriguez.