Spain teachers strike for 2nd day over staff cuts

AP News
Posted: Sep 21, 2011 7:28 AM
Spain teachers strike for 2nd day over staff cuts

Teachers in Madrid stayed off the job in large numbers Wednesday on the second day of a strike over staff cuts, and colleagues in the northwestern region of Galicia joined them.

Virginia Fernandez of the UGT union said about 80 percent of teachers were staying away from classrooms. Government officials put the figure at 40 percent.

Teachers in schools for children aged 12 to 18 are furious with Madrid's conservative-led regional government for budget cuts that will reduce staff, force them to teach two hours more per week and give them less time for tutoring.

The budget cuts are part of a wave of austerity measures being taken in Spain as it tries to shed debt and resurrect an economy hit hard by the bursting of a real estate bubble. In Spain, education is largely run by regional governments, and the one in Madrid hopes to save euro80 million ($110 million) with staffing cuts.

Tens of thousands of teachers, parents and students staged a boisterous march in Madrid on Tuesday evening.

Some carried banners calling public education an investment rather than an expense, others had placards with a picture of the regional president, Esperanza Aguirre, and the phrase, "Wanted, for robbing public education."

In Galicia, Spain's misty green northwest corner which is also run by the conservative Popular Party, teachers at both the elementary and secondary level went on strike Wednesday to protest increased classroom hours. Union leader Marcelino Brea said 75 percent of teachers there honored the call.