Madrid teachers call strike over budget cuts

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Madrid region school teachers have called for a two-day strike over budget cuts, one of the main unions said Tuesday.

Education unions were united in the call for a strike in Madrid region secondary schools from September 20-21, one of the largest teachers' unions, ANPE, said in a statement.

"We teachers have seen our salaries fall and our retirement conditions changed in less than a year," said ANPE vice president Carmen Guaita.

The Spanish government cut all state employees' salaries by an average of five percent and froze pensions mid-2010 in an effort to shore up state coffers and regain the trust of financial markets.

"But the straw that broke the camel's back is that this year they are asking us to give an extra two hours a week without financial compensation," she added.

"The national education budget has dropped by two billion euros ($2.7 billion) this year. All this damages the quality of education."

Spain's regional governments enjoy a great degree of autonomy over health and education.

Madrid's government is asking secondary school teachers to give an extra two hours of in-class teaching so as to limit spending on hiring new temporary staff.

Teachers unions are also planning to demonstrate on Wednesday, the day school children return to class after the summer break, and then again on September 20.

© 2011 AFP

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