Portugal’s Constitutional Court on late Thursday struck down a government austerity measure that would have made it easier to lay off civil servants.

Judges from Portugal’s highest court said the plan was unconstitutional because it violated laws guaranteeing job security for state positions.

The ruling deals a fresh blow to Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s government, which is trying to meet the terms of its 2011 international bailout, worth 78 billion euros (104 billion dollars).

The Constitutional Court in April declared unconstitutional four cost-cutting measures, including cuts in public employee wages and state pensions.

Portugal is in its third year of recession, with its unemployment rate hovering near 18 per cent.

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