May 20, 2013
Spanish teachers strike over education cuts
Thousands of teachers, parents and schoolchildren marched through Madrid on Tuesday in protest against spending cuts in education, as Spain fights to avoid being dragged into a euro zone debt crisis.
Protests against highly indebted local authorities' cuts in spending on secondary education have also taken place across ten of Spain's 17 autonomous regions, and in Madrid are being accompanied by two days of strike action.
Protesters said the Madrid regional government's decision to increase weekly teaching hours and cut class preparation time would damage the quality of secondary education and mean less work for support teachers.
The euro zone debt crisis has forced up Spain's borrowing costs and the central government is putting huge pressure on the country's autonomous regions -- which administer health and education spending -- to trim their budget deficits.
"There are other things that can be cut, where money can be saved. Education is an investment in our future," Miguel Angel Nieto, a teacher at Juan de la Cierva high school in Madrid, told reporters.
Nieto and dozens of parents and teachers camped out in the school overnight before the start of the strike.
About 80 percent of Madrid's 21,000 secondary school teachers joined the first day of the strike, according to union sources. The Madrid government said the number was nearly half that.
The evening march through Madrid's wide central Arenal Street attracted protesters waving banners with slogans like "Remember London: fewer teachers today means more police tomorrow" and "Education is investment not expenditure."
The protest was larger than one in Madrid earlier in September, and more demonstrators are expected at a nationwide protest against the cuts planned for Oct. 22.