AFTER THE NATIONAL FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT was recently signed by Spanish unions and employers (see our last issue) the government congratulated both parties and harmony reigned. In a few short weeks however this has disappeared as Prime Minister Zapatero announced austerity measures to head off pressure from financial markets to add to public sector job cuts already approved. Only one in ten of the vacancies caused by retiring civil servants will be filled until 2013 in aid of reducing the budget deficit by 5.7% of GDP. Reportedly under pressure from U.S. President Obama, Mr. Zapatero has loosened labour laws, allowing employers to lay off workers more easily and to pay only 25 days of salary as severance rather than 45. Public sector wages will also be reduced by 5% in a package designed to take €15 billion out of the economy. The trade union attitude has changed completely since the framework agreement: the CCOO federation criticised a lack of consultation and together with the UGT called a general strike for September 29th. This will coincide with a European Day of Action organised by the European Trade Union Confederation (see page 3).