First wage rise for Spain civil servants since crisis

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Spanish unions have reached a deal with the government to raise the salary of civil servants for the first time since 2009 after an economic crisis sparked drastic austerity measures, they said Friday.

The agreement allows for a 6.1 to 8.8 percent rise over three years, depending on the growth of the Spanish economy over this period, according to a statement published by CCOO, one of the country's main unions.

Last year, the government had proposed a one percent increase, but this was rejected by unions as inadequate.

"It's the first rise since 2009," Antonio Cabrera, head of the health branch of CCOO, told AFP.

"We're going towards an increase that will mean people in the civil service will recover their lost purchasing power."

But he said this was just a start, as civil servants lost between 11 and 23 percent of their purchasing power during the crisis, the hardest-hit working in the health sector.

On top of this, tens of thousands of posts were abolished in the central administration, army, justice and public health sectors.

There were 2.5 million civil servants in Spain in 2016, compared to 2.7 million at the start of 2010, according to official data.

Civil servants aside, the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, in power since 2011, is currently faced with the anger of pensioners, thousands of whom took to the streets in February to slam the tiny rise in their pensions.

Still, in 2017, the minimum wage rose eight percent, the strongest increase in 30 years, and by four percent this year, with the aim of reaching 992 euros ($1,223) in 2020.

Spain, the eurozone's fourth-largest economy, saw its GDP rise 3.1 percent in 2017, its third consecutive year of growth above 3 percent.

But the country still suffers from sky-high unemployment at 16.5 percent, the second highest rate in the European Union after Greece.

© 2018 AFP

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