Recovering Spain grants 1% pay rise before elections

31st July 2015, Comments 0 comments

Spanish public workers will get a one-percent pay rise next year, the government said Friday, trumpeting the country's economic recovery a few months ahead of a general election.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said public sector staff will also recover part of their Christmas bonuses that he cut during the economic crisis, fuelling angry street protests.

"The clear improvement in the economy allows us to reverse little by little the efforts that we have demanded from the Spanish people," Rajoy said.

Public sector pay was cut in 2010 under the former Socialist government and frozen in the following years as recession engulfed Spain.

In 2012 Rajoy's conservative administration cut the Christmas bonus. He said on Friday workers would get a quarter of that bonus back this year and a further half in 2016.

The hikes were the headline changes in Rajoy's 2016 state budget, which he unveiled at a major twice-yearly press conference.

Spain emerged in 2013 from five years of on-off recession and the government forecasts the economy will grow 3.3 percent this year -- more than twice the average forecast for eurozone countries.

Rajoy has forecast Spain will create 600,000 jobs this year.

But Spain's unemployment rate is still dire at more than 22 percent -- the second-highest in the eurozone after that of bailed-out Greece.

Rajoy said 53.5 percent of the new budget will be devoted to social spending, with 39 percent going on pensions.

Pensions will rise by 0.25 percent, the minimum amount set by law.

Rajoy will fight for re-election against a challenge from upstart protest parties in the polls due some time from November.

© 2015 AFP

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