The five main teachers' unions CCOO, ANPE, CSIF, STES and UGT have called a one-day strike on May 22nd to protest against government cuts and in support of the state education system.
In a statement to the press today union leaders explained that the cuts brought in by central and regional government "equate to cuts of between 25 and 30 per cent in the education budget" and that thes "brutal" cuts come on top of numerous others made in state education over the past few years and represent the "biggest backward step ever" in the sector.
They pointed out that with the latest government reforms classrooms "will become overcrowded again" with groups of up to 30 students in infant and primary; up to 36 in secondary and up to 42 (or even 46) in sixth form.
Furthermore, substitutes will not be found for teachers during the first two weeks of any sick leave, which the unions say "will create huge organisational problems in many centres" and will amount to "hardship for pupils".
They added that pulling out of certain support programmes in infant education and in new technologies, and changes to vocational training programmes, amount to "a step backward" in the quality of the education system.
They also described the "deterioration" in teachers' working conditions as "extremely serious", with more teaching hours, the removal of timetable choices for staff over 55, and additional salary reductions in case of sick leave. They also criticised the government for freezing job offers in the public education sector.
"All of these issues," they complained, "translate into an incalculable reduction in teacher numbers, which will have serious repercussions on the quality and equality of education".
Last but not least, teachers also criticised the changes being made to the university system, rejecting outright the proposed increases in fees for students and saying it will lead to "an elitist university" in Spain.