Madrid high school teachers strike over cutbacks
High school teachers in Spain's central Madrid region went on strike Tuesday to protest education spending cuts at a time when Spanish regions are under pressure to shore up their finances.
Unions said between 70 and 80 percent of the region's 21,000 high school teachers were joining the strike. The Madrid regional government put the figure at 43 percent.
The regional government has increased the number of hours of classes teachers must give from 18 hours a week to 20 hours because temporary hiring is being cut back.
Unions argue this will lead to poorer quality education as teachers will have less time to prepare classes and will be assigned to teach subjects they know nothing about.
The unions have called on teachers to march through the streets of Madrid on Tuesday evening under the slogan: "No To Cuts! Education is not an expense, it is an investment."
Teacher strikes and demonstrations against spending cuts are planned in the coming days in most of Spain's 17 autonomous regions, which are responsible for education and health care, including in Galicia and Navarra.
The red ink running through the accounts of Spain's regional governments is a major concern for the markets, which fear it could compromise the central government's targets for cutting the annual public deficit.
The budget deficit for the 17 regions amounted to 1.2 percent of gross domestic product during the first half of the year -- nearly reaching the full-year target of 1.3 percent.
© 2011 AFP