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Catalonia to slash 1,475 public jobs in region to reduce deficit

After announcing that its public employees would be expected to work more hours, or take fewer vacation days, in return for no additional pay and in all likelihood less, the Catalan regional government on Friday said it would be pursuing a labor-force reduction plan (ERE) to dispense with the services of 1,475 of its 16,000 workers.

Many of Catalonia's public companies have seen their ranks thinned out for months now, either through temporary contracts that have not been renewed or retirees who have been not been replaced. The mantra of the CiU Catalan nationalist bloc-led regional administration, installed in power last December, has been cut, cut, cut, which in turn has led to protests in the health, education and social services sectors.

These public workers fear that the regional government's aim of cutting its deficit this year by 10 percent will lead to chronic shortages and the deterioration of basic services for citizens.

In the meantime, the administration has scrapped inheritance tax on large fortunes in the region, which will cost its coffers between 50 and 150 million euros.

The first of the layoffs took place last week at Gisa, the Catalan public works authority. Seventy people, or 30 percent of its staff, were shown the door.