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'Useful, positive' meeting between Letta, Renzi

Jobs Act to deal with unemployment a key topic in talks

10 January, 11:26
'Useful, positive' meeting between Letta, Renzi (ANSA) - Rome, January 10 - A proposed new plan to create jobs in Italy topped the agenda during a "useful and positive" meeting Friday morning between Premier Enrico Letta and Matteo Renzi, new leader of the Democratic Party (PD), sources said.

The pair talked for about 90 minutes on a variety of issues, but focused particularly on Renzi's Jobs Act plan and the outlook for the coalition government in 2014.

The meeting comes as Letta, also a PD member, is holding talks with all the parties supporting his left-right coalition government for a policy pact for this year. One of the main aims of Renzi's Job Act would be to simplify Italy's labour system, eliminating many parts of the current myriad of work contracts and lay-off benefits.

A key proposal is to have single employment contracts with job protection measures growing with seniority. The jobs plan drew a mostly warm reception when it was released one day earlier.

However, Deputy Premier Angelino Alfano on Thursday called the package "the same soup as always".

Alfano, who is also interior minister and leader of the New Center Right party, was one of the few dissenting voices, as Renzi's plan won a largely warm reception on its initial release, both at home and from the European Union. Renzi launched the proposals after national statistics agency Istat said Wednesday that unemployment in Italy reached a record high of 12.7% in November, with over 41% of under-25s out of work.