Hire-and-fire labour law changes won't ease Spain's employment crisis

March 15, 2012

On Tuesday Spanish politicians claimed a political victory after winning concessions in their tussle over the country's deficit reduction plans. But on the streets of Spain, all is not well. Tens of thousands of union supporters marched against changes to the country's labour laws on Sunday, and they plan a general strike for 29 March if the ruling right-of-centre People's party (PP) doesn't negotiate with them.

Some PP members have suggested that striking would be unpatriotic, damaging Spain's international reputation. At the weekend general secretary María Dolores de Cospedal said protesters were being egged on by the Socialist opposition and said the strikers should think about the country's unemployed, who would be given a chance through the latest reform. The head of the CCOO union, Ignacio Fernández Toxo, said the unemployed were being used as "blackmail" to justify scrapping workers' rights.

Salvador del Rey, a law professor who is president of the Cuatrecasas international institute, says: "It's much easier for human resources to sack workers than to introduce flexibility. Flexibility requires planning." Nevertheless, he doesn't think the law will accelerate dismissals. "For flexibility, you need a cultural change, but new laws are often needed to drive cultural change."


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