Venezuelan National Assembly Rejects Shorter Working Day For Now

On Thursday a majority in the National Assembly rejected the partial
reform of the Labor Law, which would have reduced the working day to 6
hours, a proposal made by legislators Luis Tascon, Wilmer Azuaje, and
Tomas Sanchez.

By Tamara Pearson - Venezuelanalysis.com
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Mérida, November 7, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)-- On Thursday a majority in the National Assembly rejected the partial reform of the Labor Law, which would have reduced the working day to 6 hours, a proposal made by legislators Luis Tascon, Wilmer Azuaje, and Tomas Sanchez.

All three are members of the New Revolutionary Path party, which was formed after a number of deputies including Tascon and Azuaje were expelled from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

Luis Tascon, has condemned the National Assembly's vote against his proposal. According to Tascon, "Pressure from the endogenous right on the United Socialist Party of Venezuela legislators has meant that Venezuelan workers can't count on a new benefit by May 1 of next year."

"We want the commitment to the Venezuelan workers to have a labor day reduced to 6 hours be fulfilled here, something which was promised in the constitutional reform," he said.

"It seems that when fundamental themes of socialism are brought to this National Assembly they are scared of socialism, they are scared of workers' rights being asserted," he added.

In response Francisco Torrealba, legislator and member of the Commission of Social Development that is studying the labor law, said that Tascon was merely playing political games and that "session after session he comes ready to create a complete scandal so that the next day the headlines that appear in the press are that the Assembly is opposed to increased wages for the public sector, and that the Assembly is opposed to the reduction of the working day."

"We recommend that legislator Tascon visit the barrios to campaign to win the position of mayor to which he is aspiring rather than put on a show in the Assembly."

Torrealba also suggested that Tascon "acts like an employee of Rafel Poleo." Poleo is a journalist for Globovisión, an opposition TV station, where during a broadcast last month he advised Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to beware of ending up like Benito Mussolina, "hanging upside down."

Torrealba explained that the labor law had been in the National Assembly since 2003 and that it was important to work on it "without hurry but without pause" as it is "a law that we are going to discuss seriously" and that it wasn't something that could be resolved with demagogic acts. He said there are a range of factors to consider, including that the reduction of the working day could force companies to close.

On October 28 the minister for labor and social security, Roberto Hernandez, said that 2009 would be the year to debate with the union sectors about the reduction of the working day to 6 hours through the Labor Law.

He said that in the context of the global financial crisis, it is the workers who should be putting forward proposals.

"The workers and employees have a fundamental role in warding off the effects of the crisis," he said.

He said the main aim of the shortened working day was to promote the education and cultural plans that are being implemented and that the workers have time to contribute to the cultural missions.

According to Hernandez the public discussion about the 6-hour day has been taking place since last year, but "we don't want to take any steps without the active participation of all the social sectors involved."

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