Unemployment Gets Worse In Spain

4.6 million people are jobless in Spain now. There are long lines to “Oficina de empleo”, as they call employment offices.

The rate of unemployment went from 20.05% up to 20.09% during 2010. That’s the highest level in 13 years. Even a raise of seasonal jobs in Spain didn’t help the situation at this time.

Now Spain, one of the biggest countries in Western Europe, has one of the highest jobless rates inside the EU along with such countries as Estonia and Latvia, which have similar unemployment rates (data showed by Eurostat, the European statistics agency).

At the start of the economic crisis in Spain, a third of all workers were on insecure short-term contracts that made them cheap and easy to fire. By contrast, those on continuing contracts were amongst the best protected in Europe, costing an employer 45 days pay per year worked, to lay off.

The trade unions have already voiced strong objections to the labor reform, fearing the gradual transfer of all workers to contracts giving just 33 days severance pay, instead of 45. “Spain is already the country where the most jobs were destroyed. Now they want to make it even easier to fire a worker,” argues Rafael Espartero of the UGT union. “We need policies to create jobs, not make more people unemployed.”

National spending cuts passed through parliament last month by just one vote, leaving the government looking weak and isolated. Its actions have reassured the financial markets to a degree – including introducing the labor reform. A vote of support for that reform from parliament might go some way towards repairing the government’s battered standing here at home.

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