Spanish parliament approves labour reforms

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Spanish lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to hotly disputed labour reforms deemed essential for slashing the soaring jobless rate and reviving the fragile economy.

The lower house of parliament approved the new law, including some amendments introduced by the Senate, in the final step of a parliamentary process.

The government of Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero passed its own version of the reforms -- which make it easier and cheaper for firms to fire workers -- in June after three-way talks with unions and employers collapsed.

The country's two main unions then called a general strike for September 29 in protest.

The International Monetary Fund has said the labour reforms are "absolutely crucial" if Spain is to slash its jobless rate, which has soared to more than 20 percent, and rein in the massive public deficit.

© 2010 AFP

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