• Special investigation report 135. The purchasing power of teachers' salaries at UNAM. 2001-2021

    Published the Wednesday 24 March of 2021 8:22 PM CAM No comment


    Introduction [go]

    The purchasing power of the salary of the professors and professors of the UNAM: 2001-2019 [go]

    Comparison with the example of a load of 9 weekly hours in front of group [go]

    How much would teachers have to work, teachers and assistants to acquire the Recommended Food Basket? [go]

    The tabulator of female and male university students of all categories suffers from loss of purchasing power [go]

    And what about the purchasing power of 2019 to 2021? [go]


    After one year of transferring academic activities to the homes of professors and professors through SARS CoV-2, the National Autonomous University of Mexico published on the cover of the UNAM Gazette Number 5,194 of the 22 March of 2021: "Nothing stops the cougar spirit. One year working from home ". But the Maximum House of Studies omits to mention that academic activities have been kept up by work, the tools and materials of your teaching staff. The incomplete aspect in that sentence is not recent, because historically the University is being subsidized by the more than precarious work of the professors and professors who, in most of the times, They receive wages that are not even enough to eat - which will be shown in this report - and even less to pay for the electronic equipment and the internet connectivity necessary so that education does not stop.

    UNAM's academic staff is made up of 41,542 people, which have 50,794 appointments, this because there are those who have double appointment, for example: they are teachers and they are also teacher assistants. This report focuses on the categories of "Regular Subject Professor" and "Assistant Professor" since, in these categories the 74% of appointments at UNAM.

    The purchasing power of the salary of the professors and professors of the UNAM: 2001-2019

    The implementation of the salary reduction policy associated with the educational modernization project that has been imposed in public universities is progressing practically without obstacles, thanks to the fact that in the shadow of the economic and social crisis, widespread unemployment was generated in practically all professional activities. This situation has worsened in those educational institutions that, as in the UNAM, workers face trade union organizations such as AAPAUNAM that do not really represent the interests of workers, generating a greater weakness in the salary negotiations of the university unions. Like this, the educational modernization project, inspired by the theses of economic neoliberalism, progresses in public universities without great difficulties, increasingly compressing and differentiating the salaries of academic workers. This trend is not only of the UNAM nor of the public universities, It is a systemic problem in which the costs of crises are transferred to the working classes and its tendency will not change until we fight that system..

    An example of the above is the case of the bulk of the teaching staff at UNAM, of whom already in 2014 had suffered such a reduction in thirty-seven years, that his base salary had only just under a third of the purchasing power of 1977, depending on the category and level. Although the collapse of the real wage during the last two decades has affected all sectors of wage earners in the country, This has been shown more acutely in those where government policy has a high degree of determination, among other cases are the general minimum wages in the country and wages in public universities.

    To calculate the purchasing power of the salary we will use the Recommended Food Basket (CAR), which was designed by Dr.. Abelardo Avila Curiel of the Instituto Nacional de Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, is formed by 40 food, excluding expenses that require preparation, Neither the payment of rent in housing, transport, dress, footwear, toilet staff and many other goods and services that fall within the consumption of a family, it is only in relation to the cost of basic food. The CAR is a weighted basket, use and daily consumption, to a Mexican family of 4 people (2 adults, a / young man and a / child) where nutritional aspects are taken into account, of diet, of tradition and habits cultural. The price of this and other basic baskets has been raised and systematized by the Multidisciplinary Analysis Center of the UNAM for more than four decades. When comparing base salary increases with CAR price increases year-on-year, we can compare if these increases allow to buy the same, when the increments are equal, or if less and less food can be bought. In this way we calculate the real salary with a reference year as a base, in this case the 2001.

    Subject teacher means that he is only hired for the duration of one semester and he is paid for the hours in front of the group according to the subject he teaches. Your base salary is calculated according to this criterion, which is called hour / week / month, i.e., for each weekly hour versus group, how much is paid per month. As an example, in 2019, in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CCT), if an hour / week / month is paid in 380.24 weights and the subject it imparts is 3 weekly hours in front of group, the base salary per month would be 380.24 x 3 = 1,140.72 weights

    Then, we are going to take as a reference the base salary per hour / week / month. Later we will put some examples with several assigned hours:

    As we can see in the previous tables, when comparing the nominal increases to the base salary in the period of 2001 to the 2019 from the category "Ordinary Professor of Subject A" and "Assistant Professor B" (of 116% and 117% percent respectively), contrasting these with the increases of the CAR (310%), there is a cumulative loss of purchasing power of the salary of 47.27% for those who have the appointment of Ordinary Professor of Subject A and of 46.94% for those who have the appointment of Teaching Assistant B.

    This means that food prices for this period have increased much more than the base salaries of teachers at UNAM have done.. In other words, your base salary in 2019 you can buy half of what you bought in 2001. And it is that if we take as an example what can be bought of a basic product with the base salaries in different years, we would have for each case a scenario in which each time it reaches for less. For example, If the entire base salary of a teacher of the UNAM was spent in kilos of beef steak, we would have graphs like the following.

    In 2001 with the base salary hour / week / month of a teacher they could be acquired 7 kilos of beef steak, While for 2019 you can only buy 2.5 Kilos. In that case, the salary fell as they stopped being able to acquire approximately 5 kilos of what you could buy before. For those who are teaching assistants, the picture is similar, since for 2001 with their base salary they could buy 5.9 kilos of beef steak per month and now only 2.1 kilos.

    This scenario, repeated in each of the elements of the CAR, It means that the joint effect is that consumption has to be reduced in the homes of the families of teachers of the UNAM. With the reduction in real wages comes a reduction in the tortillas that can be bought, of the tomatoes, of the onions with which daily food is prepared. The table gets smaller and smaller, and in it less and less food and of lower quality are put.

    Another way to understand it is that for each peso that was paid in 2001, in 2019 they would only pay 53 equivalent cents 2001. Or that if when putting in constant weights of 2001 (real salary) the base salary for each hour / week / month, in that year it was $175.94 pesos and that of 2019 would only be equivalent to $92.28 pesos for the Teacher of Subject A. In the case of Teacher Assistant B, would pass from $148.04 pesos to only $78.55 pesos per month.

    Comparison with the example of a load of 9 weekly hours in front of group.

    In the previous section we saw comparisons with an hour / week / month, but regularly a class can be between 2 and 5 weekly hours in front of group, or be hired in more than one subject. In this example we are going to show what would happen to the base salary of a teacher or assistant with 9 weekly hours in front of group, that is, the salary of an hour / week / month multiplied by 9.

    We must take into account that this is a range of contracted hours that most professors and professors do not manage to obtain. For example, in 2016, the results of the Diagnostic Questionnaire of the Teaching Staff of the Faculty of Economics of the UNAM, showed that a subject teacher had on average 5.9 weekly hours in front of group.

    We use the example of 9 hours (three classes of three hours a week) for two reasons:

    • Sets a cap that is above average and;
    • Because in the same results of the diagnostic questionnaire it is indicated that for each hour in front of the group there are 1.3 class preparation hours and 1.5 hours of teacher preparation and training, so an hour in front of the group becomes 3.8 effective hours of work, which converts 9 hours in front of the group in a weekly shift of approximately 34 effective working hours, almost a day of 40 hours per week that is considered a full-time day.

    UNAM pays by the hour in front of the group, but not for all the work that has to be done before and after teaching, i.e., the teaching work neither ends nor begins with being in front of the group for the duration of the session, it is on the contrary, a process that involves:

    • Prepare the didactic planning that allows the student body to have a breakdown of the content, objectives, ways to evaluate and available materials,
    • Carry out the readings and structure pedagogical dynamics that each semester change because the groups demand different situations,
    • Prepare the material to carry out the sessions,
    • Read assignments,
    • Provide feedback with the student body,
    • Evaluate partially and globally the subject,
    • Review final works,
    • Assign grades and record them in the system,
    • In addition to being updated in pedagogical matters and now in Information and Communication Technologies.


    As can be seen in the previous graphs, the increase in CAR prices far exceeds the increases in the base salary of teachers, teachers and assistants, even with a higher than average hourly load.

    With the above it is also clearly shown that current wages are not even enough to eat, since the value of the Recommended Food Basket is not reached, even with days that have very little to do to be days of exclusive dedication. We have already described before that the CAR does not include any other item of basic needs, in fact, not even water, gas or electricity that is involved in preparing food, let alone the electricity and internet service that are essential for online classes. Then, It could be pointed out that the base salaries of UNAM professors leave them in a situation of extreme poverty, i.e., their salary is not enough to pay the basic basket.

    74% of professors of the UNAM have a salary of misery, how precarious, violates and reflects contempt for teaching. This situation worsened and deepened with the pandemic, because the professors and professors have paid with their money the price of the online classes, This is: training, computer equipment, Internet package payments that support video conferencing and other electronic devices, in addition to preparing spaces at home to be able to teach the subjects, adding the damage to physical and mental health. The reality is that a large part of the teachers have acquired debts to support their work.

    To the above, nor the university authorities, nor the AAPAUNAM —who owns the collective labor contract for academic staff— have responded to this circumstance and thus have allowed the further impoverishment of the professors and professors, instead of guaranteeing resources to the entire university teaching staff in order to have the adequate connection or training infrastructure. The efforts that have been granted have been miniscule and they were not generalized, through short-term calls, the internet connection was strengthened, but only to those who had a contract with a certain telephone line, tablets were loaned but only to a small group and with the promise of delivery, and it is well known that to teach a pedagogical class a tablet is insufficient.

    In the context of the pandemic, In addition, the inequality in the system of distribution of tasks for the maintenance of the home, childcare and health emergencies due to COVID 19 it has been accentuated, these tasks have been further charged towards women, who in the midst of it all have had to perform feats to stretch household spending, be heads of the family, and take care of those who sadly fell ill.

    How much would teachers have to work, teachers and assistants to acquire the Recommended Food Basket?

    The tip of the pyramid in the organization of the UNAM that includes the Rector, the University Council, the Governing Board, the Board, the Central Administration, and the Academic Directors have stated that they are proud that the Maximum House of Studies is among the best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean., and the world, but the one who sustains this academic excellence is the teaching staff, which, as already pointed out, is made up of the 74% teachers in a precarious situation, job instability and extreme poverty.

    Is the goal of establishing a base salary for UNAM teachers worth just enough to eat??

    To this question, the calculation of the contracted hours that are necessary to acquire the CAR, shows us the impossible panorama that UNAM has for its teaching staff, particularly those who have the appointment of subject teachers and teacher assistants, since that panorama would be totally different if we analyzed the purchasing power of the salary of the high bureaucracy at UNAM.

    In 2019 so that the professors and professors of the UNAM had acquired the CAR, they should have had an hourly load of 20 hours 52 minutes in front of group, that by the conversion factor between hours versus group and effective hours of work would be converted into approximately a working day of 79 weekly hours, i.e., something humanly impossible.

    In the case of teaching assistants, the picture is even worse, since for 2019 the hiring of 24 hours with 39 weekly minutes in front of group. Which implies an effective workload that is simply unfeasible.

    The tabulator of female and male university students of all categories suffers from loss of purchasing power

    In previous research reports, We have also shown how the purchasing power of salaries has deteriorated for other academic appointments at UNAM. For example, February 1, 1977 as of January 1, 2014:

    • The salary of part-time associate professors “A” and “B” has had a loss of purchasing power of the 34%.
    • The salary of full-time associate professors "A" and "B" has had a loss of purchasing power of the 67%.
    • The salary of full-time Full-time professors “A” and “B” has had a loss of purchasing power of the 64%.

    The serious salary deterioration suffered by university professors and researchers has developed phenomena such as multichambism and the brain drain to private universities, to the public and private sector or abroad. Programs to deepen salary differences that favor teachers with a higher level and productivity are insufficient, if not, inoperative, to stop dropping out and contribute to academic improvement, because, not necessarily the best teachers and researchers are among the highest-productivity; In addition, have contributed to increasing the amount of work in search of stimuli and to the detriment of quality, and what is more serious, the stimulus program does not include subject teachers or assistants, among whom are also many high-level, and above all, young professors who could potentially constitute the new academic plant of our University, if they do not leave this institution sooner due to the low salary level.

    And what about the purchasing power of 2019 to 2021?

    Due to the pandemic, It is not possible at this time to compare the base salary with the price of the CAR, However, there is a way to realize that the trend towards deterioration in the purchasing power of the salary of teachers at UNAM continues its trend, since the inflation of 2019 to 2020 and 2020 to the 2021 have been in each case higher than 3.5% that the salary of the Collective Bargaining Agreement has been increased, which brings as a consequence that in 2020 and 2021 there is more loss of purchasing power.

    In a meeting that was made public in recent days between professors of the Faculty of Sciences and university authorities to address the issue of late and incomplete payments, a subject teacher asks “It is not only that they are not paying us, how is it determined that the salary they pay us is that and not another?”.

    We return to that question because whoever is making these decisions, they are committing a series of outrages and injustices, that reduces food, few in themselves, at the tables of the UNAM teaching workers. As if the problem were not enough in the pandemic, payments have been delayed more than normal for many teachers, although it is true that not for everyone, It is also true that hundreds who have been working for at least half a year without salary, another thousand with incomplete salary, or partial benefits and discounts and the vast majority, even without having a late payment, poverty wages.

    Contrary to what the federal government proclaims regarding salary recovery, increases to the minimum wage do not benefit millions of workers whose contracts are negotiated year after year with increments that are lower than inflation (just take a look at all workers in upper secondary and higher education), so those increases, they are actually salary reductions. This has been happening for several decades at UNAM and has accumulated, in the period of 2001 to the 2019, a deterioration of 48% to the base salary.

    Although it can be argued that the teaching staff has other benefits and not only receives the base salary, is the base salary with which the contribution is made for retirement. For example, according to the information collected by the solidarity fund organized by professors from the Faculty of Sciences, to the base salary are added:

    • Didactic material every fortnight
    • Pantry help, once every month (single amount and not proportional to the number of hours contracted)
    • Recognition of the academic staff of the subject, four times a year
    • Support for academic improvement, Twice a year
    • Vacation Premium, Twice a year
    • Aguinaldo
    • Help for the acquisition of books, Twice a year
    • 5 adjustment days, once a year
    • Clause payment 60, of 0 to 3 times per year

    It should be noted that the precarious base salary is supposedly compensated for the incentive and benefit programs, but these are not paid every fortnight, They are sporadic perceptions and ridiculous amounts, as are the $20.00 biweekly pesos allocated to didactic material received by teachers for an academic load of 6 hours per week.

    In addition, There are discounts that contain up to double the items of the above depending on each case. With that, the figures that finally appear on each pay stub do not increase significantly and on the other hand, as they are benefits not integrated into the base salary, They constitute the main source of undue withholdings that the UNAM has made on thousands of workers who receive a one-time payment when they delay payment for a semester or more.

    We insist that it is the base salary with which contributions are made for retirement since, with that, UNAM is also condemning teachers to an old age in extreme poverty. This is the same reason why it has also happened in many cases that teachers cannot retire, because the decrease in income is unaffordable.

    In conclusion, the 74% of those who are teachers at UNAM have a salary that is not even enough to eat. This is not a metaphor but a stark reality, exacerbated by the difficult conditions in which it has tried to survive the pandemic. An emergency increment is necessary that, although it does not solve all the problems, at least cover the basic need for food. If we want the purchasing power of 2001, an increase of the 100% to the base salary of teachers and subject teachers and teacher assistants, And if we want a working day that demands exclusive dedication, This is, not only counting the hours in front of the group, but all the work involved in each course, scope for recommended food basket, then an increase of 174% to the base salary of teachers and subject teachers and teacher assistants.

    The reduction of the purchasing power of wages is not a trend only of the UNAM or of public education, It is a trend in the reduction of wages to the working classes in the total product that collectively belongs to us, It is one more face of the war that capital maintains against labor in each and every one of the productive fields.. This tendency is one of the many heads of the capitalist hydra and does not end in any other way than organizing against the heart that feeds it..


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