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Widespread disruption as education strike gets underway
ThinkSpain , Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Schools have remained closed, there are picket lines outside universities and motorways have been blockaded as the national strike against cuts in education services gets underway today.

The strike is taking place in all regions of Spain except for the Basque Country and the Balearic Islands, where strade unions have decided to take action, but not in the form of strikes.

Students, parents and teachers have all joined today's protests - the first ever strike across all levels of public education the country has seen.

The strike action has had a much greater following at university level than in primary and secondary schools. Police have arrested two people in a picket line outside the Complutense University in Madrid and many universities are reporting a high percentage of absenteeism amongst both students and staff.

The AP-7 motorway and the B-30 were blockaded by protestors outside the Autonomous University of Barcelona earlier this morning,  but have since been reopened.

The Luis Vives secondary school in Valencia, which became the "symbol" of protests against cuts in education earlier this year, has reported a 100% following for the strike action, both by pupils and by staff.  Other schools across the country, however, appear to be operating as normal.

The cuts will see class sizes increase, teachers will have to work more hours for the same pay and university tuition fees will increase by up to 25%.

The government says the cuts, of more than 20%, are necessary so it can meet its spending targets for this year.

Since taking over at the end of last year, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed to undertake harsh austerity measures, promising major reforms every week.

The widespread protests against education cuts come just over a week after police cleared anti-austerity demonstrations from the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid.

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