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Spain presses unions on pension reform

Source: AFP - Mon 24th Jan 2011

The Spanish government will push this week for an agreement with the unions on pension reforms which it intends to present on Friday, the employment ministry said.

The country's two main unions, the UGT and the CCOO, have voiced fierce opposition to the government's plan to raise the legal retirement age from 65 to 67.

They have threatened to hold a further general strike if the proposal is agreed to by the government.

However, the government intends to present the plan to the cabinet on January 28, although negotiations with the unions will continue this week in order to try and reach an agreement with them.

CCOO secretary general Ignacio Fernandez Toxo has warned that reaching a deal would be "difficult."

In a bid to reassure nervous investors, Zapatero confirmed on December 30 the government's commitment to the pension reform plan.

"We must take measures" because "the largest generation in the history of Spain will reach retirement" in the coming years, placing a massive burden on the social security system, he said.

The government is struggling to control the massive public deficit and calm market fears that Spain could be trapped in simlar debt issues that has swamped Greece and Ireland.