New Spain PM pushes for labour reform: union

30th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain's incoming conservative prime minister pushed for "urgent" labour reforms within weeks in efforts to strengthen the country's stalled economy, unions and business leaders said on Wednesday.

Labour reforms are a crucial part of the agenda of Mariano Rajoy who is under pressure to reassure markets that he can bolster Spain's economy and finances when he takes office as prime minister next month.

He held meetings with the leader of a major union and the head of Spain's main business association, who both said he urged them to work together so that reforms can be drawn up by the second week of January.

"He demanded urgent action," the leader of the CCOO union, Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, told reporters after meeting with Rajoy. "He asked that businesses and unions work together."

Rajoy asked that from the second week of January they give him written proposals "on collective bargaining, hiring laws, absenteeism, employment dispute settlements, temporary work agencies and training," Toxo added.

The head of the CEOE main business lobby, Juan Rosell, said Rajoy urged unions and business to agree on reforms on these issues "as quickly as possible... by not much later than January 6".

"We broached the topic of labour reform, of how we can modernise a labour law that is very outdated and difficult to understand," Rosell told reporters.

"If there is no agreement, the government is there to decide and do what it thinks fit," he added.

"The situation is urgent... the future of our country is at stake."

Rajoy was due to meet later Wednesday with the leader of another major union, the UGT.

Spain's outgoing Socialist government last year launched a reform that included changes to the dual system of long-term and short-term work contracts but economists have said deeper reforms are needed.

© 2011 AFP

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