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Title: Spain Unions, Business Lobby In Deal To Cut Down Long Weekends
Author: Fraser Trevor
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  Spain's main labor unions and business organizations said Tuesday they've reached a deal to shorten the country's long weekend...

 

Spain's main labor unions and business organizations said Tuesday they've reached a deal to shorten the country's long weekends, a key goal set by the new conservative government as it seeks to kickstart the economy while it implements deep austerity cuts. In a joint press release, the unions and business organizations said the deal "to rationalize holidays" is one of several reached in recent talks that look for a wide agreement on much-needed reform in Spain's labor market. The country, with unemployment just above 20%, the highest in Europe, has one of the most rigid labor markets in the developed world, with high absenteeism levels and limited management control over holidays and work shifts. Economists and business leaders often complain about long weekends spanning both holidays and working days, known in Spain as "bridges." These sometimes bring the whole economy to a standstill, in particular when holidays are close to weekends, since few if any holidays are moved to Mondays or Fridays, as happens in other countries. Besides the deal on long weekends, which has been singled out by new Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as a government priority, the unions and business organizations announced deals on labor conflict arbitration and early retirement, matters also cited by Rajoy as in need of reform. However, the unions and business organizations said there are still short of a full-fledged accord on labor reform, as they haven't agreed on other points like contract termination costs.

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