Teachers in Madrid are going on strike next week to protest staffing cuts blamed on austerity measures, even as Europe's debt crisis is threatening to drag Spain into more perilous waters.
Teachers union leader Eduardo Sabina said secondary and vocational training teachers at 400 schools will go on strike Sept. 20 and 21. The regional government has ordered that teachers give two extra hours of class per week because temporary hiring is being cut back.
The regional government, run by the conservative Popular Party, is hoping to save euro80 million ($110 million) with the staff cuts.
Sabina said without the thousands of temporary teachers who are normally hired each year, some teachers in Madrid are being assigned to teach subjects they know nothing about.
"I know the case of a science teacher who is being forced to teach a class in the history of music," he said.
Teachers from all over the country will march Oct. 22 in Madrid.
Fears about whether Greece will default on its debt payments are roiling world markets. The Spanish government is wary that contagion might cause its borrowing costs to rise to unsustainable levels and make Spain the next eurozone country to need a bailout, after Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
In early August the yield on Spanish 10-year bonds _ a direct measure of investor jitters over a country's ability to pay its debts _ shot up to euro-era records, and came down only after the European Central Bank started buying billions in Spanish and Italian bonds on the secondary market. That buying continues.
But Spanish yields shot back up late last week and this week as worries over Greece intensified. On Tuesday the spread _ the difference between the Spanish yield and that of the benchmark German bond equivalent, seen as a safe haven _ was more than 370 points, inching up close to the levels seen early last month.