Smoking ban legislation was registered in Congress yesterday with a "sufficient majority" to see it approved (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The Anti-Tobacco Law will prohibit smoking in enclosed public places and it is expected to be put into force on January 1st, 2011. In a press conference, Health Minister, Trinidad Jiménez denied that the bill had not been supported by all political groups but said that "Consensus does not mean unanimity, I have to say that the PP group is not opposed, they simply favoured a different route". The legislation recorded support from 174 ministers and Jiménez described the reform as "simple" and "balanced" and stressed that it will be "mandatory" from the moment it enters into force. The law does not contain any restriction on public open spaces such as hospital entrances, play parks or stadiums. The motion will contain fines ranging from €30 to €600,000 depending on the seriousness of the offense. Smoking in prohibited areas shall be punished with a fine of up to €30 "if the infringement is performed in isolation". Jiménez said that the law is aimed to reduce the consumption of tobacco, the leading cause of preventable death in Spain.
In a press conference held in Madrid yesterday, President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero announce that the labour reforms will come into force on June 16th when the Consejo de Ministros will meet to approve changes in the market (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Zapatero defended the new decretazo (a decree that comes into force without being agreed on by a majority) and said it was needed to send out a signal of "trust" to the financial markets to eliminate "unrest". Zapatero said it was the "right time" to accept some new labour rules as this would help create a more stable environment and would pave the way for hope. "The economy wants to grow" said Zapatero, "We grew in the first quarter and we must grow in the second". The press conference came hours before a second meeting on labour reform at the highest level this week where Zapatero was presenting a document outlining the "margins" which "can be modified to facilitate agreement". Before the June 16th date, the government will seek the greatest possible consensus among the parliamentary groups to approve the reforms.
The unions have threatened to go on a general strike if the labour reforms aren't satisfactory (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The secretary of the UGT union, Toni Ferrer, said today, that if labour reforms proposed "infringe on the rights of workers and don't act on central issues" then they have the power to call a general strike. Ferrar, speaking on a nationally broadcast said that this could be the action taken if the reforms do not address unemployment. Ferrar said that problem isn't a case of labour market regulation but it's a problem is a lack of demand, the closing down of businesses and the fall in activity. However the UGT union expressed hope that by June 16th there will have been a period of reflection which will assist negotiation and an agreement can be reached. Ferrar stated that they would need to "provide opportunities for the unemployed.
Bullfighting in Catalunya may come under a ban if Parliament does not change the trend in voting, shown yesterday by the committee (read article in Castilian here, El Pais). December 31st 2011, could be the last day in which to see bullfighting in the region as a ban passed the penultimate step yesterday on its way to becoming law. The environmental committee approved the amendment to the law for the Protection of Animals in order to end bullfighting in a period of 18 months. This change reflects the popular legislative initiative presented by the platform Prou! The final stage of the ban could be approved on June 9th but it could be delayed if the PP party challenges the amendment. Yesterday the CiU, ERC and ICV-EUiA parties all voted in favour with the PSC, PP and Ciutadans all opposed it.
Also in the news: Barcelona prepares for the second edition of a tapas competition in Autumn (read article in full in Castilian here, El Periodico). Bill Gates defends the importance of innovation against poverty at the inauguration of the Salud Global Barcelona (read article in full, in Castilian here, La Vanguadia).