Merida, May 10th 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s new Labour Law for Workers (Lottt) came into effect this week, guaranteeing shorter working hours, longer maternity leave and pensions for all Venezuelans.
Described by the Venezuelan government as the “most advanced labour law in the world”, the Lottt reduces the working week from 44 hours to 40, and requires that employers provide two consecutive days a week off.
When the law came into effect on Tuesday, labour minister Maria Iglesias stated that the new working hours are part of the process towards a “just distribution of wealth”.
The following day, Carabobo state labour affairs committee president Jose Joaquin Vargas hailed the law as an important part of the transition from “capitalism to socialism”, while last week vice president of the National Federation of Public Sector Workers Franklin Rondon described it as “historic”.
“We are in a historic moment, in 14 years the achievements we have obtained for workers are numerous; we have achieved much more than in the last forty years,” Rondon told VTV on 5 May.
Vargas also urged workers to ensure their employers and unions act in accordance with the Lottt.
For the next six weeks, the government will be inspecting workplaces to ensure employers adhere to the new requirements. Although employers were informed earlier in the year that they would need to make any necessary changes prior to 7 May, on Tuesday Iglesias stated that inspections over the next six weeks will be “corrective in nature”. The minister warned that penalties will be imposed on employers who fail to adhere to the Lottt after 15 June.
However, workers are already reporting breaches of the new laws. In Miranda state, employees of processed meat manufacturer Industrias Alimenticias de Corralito (Inacor) have denounced their employer. A worker spokesperson, Peggy Serrano, alleged that management made a series of surprise changes to the timetable that could result in employees being forced to work overtime.
A Decade in the Making
Along with establishing new working hours, the Lottt prohibits unfair dismissal, outsourcing, guarantees the right to work for both women and people with disabilities and increases maternity leave.
Under the Lottt, Venezuela now has the world’s third longest maternity leave. Mothers are entitled to six weeks pre-natal leave, and twenty post-natal. Fathers are also entitled to two weeks paternal leave. Under the law, the same conditions apply to parents who adopt a child under three years of age.
All workers are also now entitled to retirement pensions, including full time mothers and the self employed.
The Lottt is the result of nearly a decade of discussions in both the national assembly and the labour movement.
When he approved the law last April, former president Hugo Chavez stated that, “In more than 200 years of republican history I am absolutely positive that there has never been a work law….that has been debated so much as this one.”