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Portugal high court strikes down private business firing austerity measure

Portugal's Constitutional Court [official website, in Portuguese] struck down an austerity measure Thursday that had given private companies greater latitude to fire employees. The changes to the labor code were adopted last year and allowed [WSJ report] for private companies to fire employees that held positions deemed redundant or who were considered unable to adapt to changing job skills or requirements. The court found the labor code violated the nation's constitution [text, PDF], specifically Article 53, which states: "Workers shall be guaranteed job security, and dismissal without fair cause or for political or ideological reasons shall be prohibited." Portugal received a €78 billion (USD $105.5 billion) bailout [BBC report] in 2011 from the EU and the International Monetary Fund, conditioned on the nation reworking its economic and labor system.

Portugal is one of many European states struggling to recover from financial crisis of 2008. Last month the Constitutional Court struck down [JURIST post] an austerity measure that would have made it easier for the government to lay off civil servants. The revised law applied to government employees deemed redundant and that had been unemployed for more than 12 months. In April the Constitutional Court ruled [JURIST report] that four out of nine contested austerity measures of the 2013 state budget were unconstitutional. The court's decision came in response to the request of Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva [official website] for the court to determine whether retirees and public workers were being treated unfairly under the terms of the country's constitution. In November the European Court of Justice [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the eurozone's permanent bailout fund, the ESM, is in line with European law.

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