Jobless to be drafted in to clear burnt land

Unemployed could lose benefits if they refuse to participate in program

Unemployed Spaniards will be drafted in to help clear up brush and replant forest land that has been destroyed by wildfires. And if they refuse, they may lose their state jobless payments.

The new rule, approved on Friday by the Cabinet, is an emergency measure aimed at dealing with the fallout from the rash of forest fires this summer.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said that the only people who will be called up are those on the Plan Prepara program, the government’s safety net subsidy for long-term jobless whose benefits have run out. They will not be asked to help put out fires. Those who refuse may lose up to three months of benefit payments.

This year has seen around 180,000 hectares of land in Spain destroyed by fires, which have also claimed nine lives.

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