Striking teachers demand reversal of post-2008 cuts to education
Several thousand fill Barcelona's Plaça Sant Jaume calling for minister to resign
Striking teachers filled Plaça Sant Jaume in the center of Barcelona on Wednesday morning, demanding the reversal of cuts made to education since the 2008 financial crisis.
Around 6,500 protesters, according to the Guàrdia Urbana local police, gathered outside the headquarters of the Catalan government, calling for the education minister Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray to step down with chants of "Cambray dimissió" ("Cambray, resign").
Protesters moved from Plaça Sant Jaume towards the Catalan parliament, blocking Via Laietana – one of central Barcelona's main arteries – from around 11.30am.
As well as demanding that cuts be reversed, teachers also want to ringfence July as a training month, free from teaching commitments, and ask that more reassurances are given to non-permanent staff.
The education department's position is that all cuts will be reversed during the current government term. They say they are unable to better their current offer: salary increases after six rather than nine years of work, and cutting teaching hours by one lesson for all, by two lessons for over 55s.
Flags representing several trade unions were flown by protesters – the USTEC-STEs union, who first called the strike, as well as the Intersindical, CGT, and IAC unions.
The education department estimated that, as of 10am, 7.48% of teachers were taking part in the strike on Wednesday morning, based on reports from 64% of schools.
As well as education staff, the crowd in central Barcelona included some medical professionals, despite the fact that the main health sector protest was taking place in another part of the Catalan capital.
Dressed in lab coats, doctors carried signs saying: "Enough already, we're overwhelmed."