Riots in Spain over new government mandate

Spain’s new conservative government approved sweeping Labour market reforms as part of a drive to revive a sick economy and solve Europe’s worst unemployment nightmare…a jobless rate of nearly 23 per cent.

The plan is to encourage companies to hire more people by cutting government mandated severence packages and offering tax breaks for taking on young people. But the fast track approval of the measures generated violent clashes between riot police and protesters who say they will be stripped of cherished worker benefits.

More than 500 people held a peaceful rally in central Puerta de Sol plaza in Madrid, but it turned violent after some tried to march toward parliament and were blocked by police.

Scuffles broke out, with officers using batons on demonstrators. Both protesters and police officers sustained minor injuries.

There were placards saying, “EVERY CUT MUTILATES MY RIGHTS”.

Spain is eager to restore investor confidence, satisfy the European Union and other international institutions by seeking major structural reforms in order to cut its deficit and ward off fears that it could follow Greece, Ireland and Portugal in seeking a bailout.

Under the new package of measures, Spanish companies facing hard times will be able to pull out of collective bargaining agreements and have a greater flexibility to adjust an employee’s schedules, workplace tasks and wages depending on how the economy and company are doing.

by Sasha Dubronitz

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