A million Spanish teachers went on strike Tuesday to protest against savage government cuts to education budgets.
Parents and students joined teachers in action that resulted in the almost total shutdown of state schools, nurseries and universities where makeshift tombs were erected to symbolize the death of the country’s schooling system.
Students held protests as well in Spain’s main cities, with some briefly blocking two highways around Barcelona during the morning rush hour. In Seville, students were planning to occupy the city’s historic university building for several days to protest against the spending cuts.
All but three of Spain’s 17 regions participated in the stoppage, the biggest in a series of strikes so far this year. Turnout among teachers at 80% with up to 90-95% in the universities, who with a million teachers and 7.5 million students participating, said unions. The strike was the first ever coordinated by Spain’s five main teachers’ unions across the whole of the state education sector.
The government’s €3 billion cuts to education mean fewer teachers, more students per class, fewer extra-curricular activities and up to 66% higher university tuition fees.Teachers were also protesting against the government’s plan to extend their working hours.
United Left leader Cayo Lara, who joined the strikers, said it was time to ditch the speculative bricks and mortar obsession of successive government that led to a bubble that collapsed in 2007 and instead build a new economic model based on investment in education.
In his view, ‘it is not sustainable, nor tolerable’ that the education budget be cut by 20% when spending on schools and universities was already, in terms of a proportion of GDP, less than half that in other EU countries.
In Parliament, Lara’s colleagues in the Plural Left alliance of communist-led United Left, Initiative for Catalonia Greens and Chunta Aragonesista showed solidarity with the strikers by wearing in parliament green t-shirts that have symbolized the struggle of teachers and students in favour of public education.
Action that kicked off in the education sector on April 29 is set to continue in June although no further strike date has been set.
Video – TheRealNews