Spanish students plan mass protest

2012-05-10 09:00

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Madrid - Thousands of Spanish students take to the streets on Thursday to demonstrate against crisis cuts in education, the first in several days of social protests across the country.

The national Students' Union has called demonstrations in more than 50 towns, its leader Tohil Delgado said, predicting that thousands of students and teachers would join in despite looming exams.

"We have called this demonstration as an initial response to this attack on public education, which is without precedent in the past 35 years," he said, citing reforms that protestors say are disrupting classes.

As Spain fights to stabilise its public finances, schools and universities have for months been complaining of shrinking budgets for research and extra work for teachers.

Since the last student marches on 29 February, the government has announced a further €3bn in cost-cutting reforms.

On 20 April, the central government said it would let regional authorities expand class sizes by a fifth and raise university fees to an average €1 500 from €1 000.

Traditional centres of protest

Protests in cities including Madrid and Barcelona are due to start at noon (local time) on Thursday, the union said.

Spain's universities have been a traditional centre of protest since the time of General Francisco Franco's 1939-1975 dictatorship.

The latest demonstrations are part of a wave of anger at the austerity measures launched since the conservative Popular Party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took over the government in December.

In a broader protest, the movement known as the "indignant" on 15 May marks one year since it sprang up and occupied central Madrid for weeks with a tent city on the Puerta del Sol square.

The movement has promised four days of protests from 12 to 15 May.

The "indignants" appear divided over their internal organisation, however, as traditional labour unions take centre stage, mobilising huge protests.

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated during a general strike on 29 March, and a strike across the whole education sector is planned for 22 May.

"The government has not hesitated to continue on its course of destroying the welfare state, but this will only inflame the spirits of the workers and the young people," Delgado said.

"We are convinced that in the coming weeks and months there will be many more social protests, not only by students and teachers but by all workers."

- SAPA

Read more on:    spain  |  economy
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