Venezuelan Workers Organise, Draft Proposals for New Labour Law
The reduction of the working day to a maximum of 7 hours, eliminating subcontracted work and increasing maternity leave to a period of 5 months are some of the proposals which have been put forward by thousands of workers across Venezuela in an effort to write the country’s new Labour Law, said President of the Socialist Bolivarian Workers’ Central, Will Rangel on Monday.
Venezuelan workers have been mobilising across the country since President Hugo Chavez announced that his government would be overhauling the country’s Labour Law (LOT) following a sustained campaign by workers to have the country’s employment legislation changed. Since 20 January, the Bolivarian Workers’ Central has been holding meetings throughout the country in order 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” said Rangel on Venezuelan state television channel VTV prior to commencing the meetings.
In the presence of a worker’s forum of over 1,500 workers from Maracay and 300 union delegates last Monday, Rangel also confirmed that the Worker’s Central had managed to collect over 11,000 proposals 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 which is closed off and just linked to intellectuals...here all sectors are participating,” he declared.
According to Rangel, 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 the reduction of the working day, he stated that it should not be viewed as simply “working less”, but rather an opportunity to improve the life quality and development of Venezuelan workers.
Communist Party Propel Organisation Drive
At the beginning of this week, the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), which played a leading role in the campaign to have the law rewritten, also reported that it too had been organising and collecting workers’ proposals since 3 January.
“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” said Carlos Aquino of the PCV’s Central Committee.
Aquino said that proposals will be formalised at the party’s national meeting in Caracas, due to be held on 25 February, and then submitted to the Presidential Commission for the LOT.
“It will be a pinnacle moment for the great national offensive, culminating in the month of March with the presentation of out proposals and suggestions to the President of the Republic and other sectors of national life” added Aquino.
The Presidential Commission is hoping to have the new law finalised by April and officially approved via presidential decree on the 1st of May in order to coincide with International Worker’s Day.