Spain's labour minister to quit to help with regional vote

3rd September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Spain's Labour Minister Celestino Corbacho, the architect of tough reforms aimed at slashing record joblessness, is to quit his post to help the ruling Socialist Party in regional elections, his office said Friday.

"We can confirm that he will go on the list of the Socialist Party in Catalonia and, as a result, he will leave the (employment) ministry," a spokesman for the ministry said.

The northeastern region of Catalonia holds legislative elections in November which could be difficult for the regional branch of Spain's ruling Socialist Party, which is in power in the region.

Corbacho, 60, was mayor of the Catalan town of Hospitalet de Llobregat for 14 years and and head of the provincial council of Barcelona for four years.

He rejoined the government in April 2008 following the re-election of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

He has since had to confront the financial crisis and the collapse of the property market, which pushed Spain into recession for more than a year and sent unemployment soaring to more than 20 percent.

The government this year introduced labour reforms which make it easier and cheaper for firms to fire workers, to try and slash the jobless rate and revive the fragile economy.

The measures are to receive final approval by the lower house of parliament on September 9.

The country's two main unions have called a general strike for September 29 to protest the reforms.

© 2010 AFP

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