Venezuela: Workers draft proposals for new labour law

February 5, 2012

Cutting the working day to a maximum of seven hours, eliminating subcontracted work and raising maternity leave to a period of five months were some of the proposals put forward by thousands of workers across Venezuela for the country's new Labour Law, Socialist Bolivarian Workers’ Central president Will Rangel said on January 31.

Venezuelan workers have been mobilising across the country since President Hugo Chavez announced his government would overhaul the country’s Labour Law (LOT). This came after a sustained campaign by workers to have the law changed.

Since January 20, meetings have been held throughout the country to encourage worker participation in the writing of the new law and to document their proposals.

“For the first time in history, a law will be produced from within the heart of the workers, [from] the private business owners who respect the Republic’s Constitution and from the president’s suggestions,” Rangel said on Venezuelan state television channel VTV before the meetings began.

Speaking at a forum of more than 1500 workers from Maracay and 300 union delegates on January 30, Rangel said more than 11,000 proposals had been collected as a result of the country-wide meetings.

The proposals will be submitted to the presidential commission in charge of drafting the new law.

“This isn’t a law that is closed off and just linked to intellectuals ... here all sectors are participating,” he said.

Rangel said Venezuela’s new employment code will allow for the creation of legislation on various issues, including the formation of workers’ militias and voluntary work.

In relation to reducing the working day, he said it should not be viewed as simply “working less”, but as an opportunity to improve the quality of life and development of Venezuelan workers.

The Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), which played a leading role in the campaign to have the law rewritten, also said it had been organising and collecting workers’ proposals since January 3.

Carlos Aquino, of the PCV’s central committee, said: “Throughout the past few days the different regional forums and workshops have been advancing successfully.

“Up until now we have managed to reach half of the country’s states and we hope to have reached the rest by mid-February.”

Aquino said proposals would be formalised at the party’s national meeting in Caracas, due to be held on February 25, and then submitted to the presidential commission.

“It will be a pinnacle moment for the great national offensive,” Aquino said, “culminating in March with the presentation of our proposals and suggestions to the president of the republic and other sectors of national life.”

The presidential commission is hoping to have the new law finalised by April and officially approved via presidential decree on May 1, to coincide with the international workers’ day.

[Reprinted from Venezuela Analysis.]

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