The Spanish government has approved unpopular reforms aimed at shaking up the country’s rigid labour rules.
The plan aims, among other things, to make it easier to hire and fire workers.
The announced changes came as Spain’s cost of borrowing hit a new record high amid concern over its struggling economy.
Despite market jitters Spain’s prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero insisted: ‘‘Spain is a solvent, solid, strong country and it has an international reputation. Spain is a country that like many others is suffering the consequences of the worst economic crisis in the last 80 years.’‘
The austerity measures must still be approved by parliament and the minority socialist government will have to rely on opposition support.
The plans are deeply divisive, prompting widespread protest. Spain’s largest union has called a general strike in September.
But, with jobless rate at 20 percent – the highest in the eurozone – the government is hoping the reforms will encourage employers to hire more people.