Reuters International

People wait to enter a government-run employment office in Madrid January 3, 2014. REUTERS/Susana Vera/File Photo

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MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's publicly managed employment agencies will be equipped with panic buttons to help staff deal with abuse from frustrated job-seekers, unions said.

The scheme is due to be rolled out as a pilot this month, the civil servants' union CSI-F said in a statement on Friday, highlighting Spain's struggle to redress one of its most deep-seated economic problems even after two years of growth.

Staff at Spain's state-run employment agencies were at the frontline of threats and assaults, CSI-F said, adding that 80 percent of the 391 abuses recorded in 2015 by civil servants in customer-facing positions were from those in job centres.

It did not detail how this particular segment compared to a year earlier. But overall threats and assaults on civil servants, including those working in other departments such as healthcare, jumped 33 percent from 2014 to 539, it said.

The numbers do not include cases recorded by staff working in prisons.

Spain's employment ministry - which is behind the panic button scheme, according to the union - could not immediately be contacted for comment.

While unemployment has fallen sharply from a peak of nearly 27 percent at the height of Spain's economic downturn, it still runs at 21 percent of the workforce. Many jobs created in the past year have been short-lived, temporary contracts.

The percentage of long-term unemployed, or those out of work for a year or more, has jumped the most in the euro zone since 2008.

(Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Digby Lidstone)

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