Archive for May, 2012

The New Labor Bill: Lots Of Smoke And Mirrors And Few Whistles

May 3, 2012

For thirteen years we heard the promises of a new Labor Bill to return to workers what had been robbed. For thirteen year the mandate to go back to retroactivity was ignored. For months we have been hearing what a glorious day this was going to be for workers. There were celebrations. Not until the Bill was signed did we learn the details. And now we learn:

The Bill has lots of smoke and mirrors, but in the end, it has few whistles.

Take the promise to go back to retroactivity. As Petkoff explains today in his Editorial, it turns out that the “bad” system is better, unless you have worked for the same company for a long time, something like thirteen years. Thus, in the end, most Venezuelan workers will see nothing new going forward, Chavez changed very little, the “bad” old system was better, thus the law lets you choose between the two. Bt most likely you will take the old “bad” law, not the revolutionary one.

However, remember those interest rates on severance, which used to be paid at the average between the lending rate and the savings rate?

Well, the revolution now shortchanged workers by saying it will beat  the much lower savings rate from now on. And the workers probably don’t yet know it, after all the hullabaloo about the greatest Labor Bill on Earth of the last few days.

And remember how excited you were by the work week being shortened by four hours a week?

Shucks, it only applies if you work more than 40 hours a week.

And remember the Government managed pension fund?

Well, when 75% of private workers took their money out when the news leaked, the Government decided to make it optional. Which means that most people will continue to use the “old” and “bad” system of having your company deposit the money in a bank where you will have quick access to your money.

And the extra holidays by Law?

Let’s see, Dec. 24th., Dec 31st and Monday and Tuesday of Carnival. When was the last time you did not take one of those?

So, where are the whistles in the “revolutionary” Bill? They are in an extra eight weeks of leave when you give birth, increasing it from twelve to twenty weeks, the elimination of outsourcing and the fact that a worker is only temporary for the first month.

Jeez, what a Bombastic Bill (yes, with a capital B on Bombastic), all that celebration for so little. Chavismo saw directly into the eyes of the old Bill, cried foul, but had no clue about what it said. Numbers are just not their forte, ask Giordani, he is the expert. Chavez offered, they celebrated, and now they are waking up from their drunkward spree to find out they are not much better off than they were.

Oh yes, there will be fines and even jail in some cases if you don’t obey the law. Curiously, it is the Government that will not be able to comply with the details of the new Labor Bill. But we know Justice does not apply to them.

A revolutionary rip-off if I have ever seen one. Trabajadores y Trabajadoras.

Some Things You May Have Missed In The Noise Of The LOT And Venezuela’s Proposed Withdrawal From The CIDH

May 2, 2012

While everyone has been paying attention to the details the new no-longer-secret Labor Bill (LOT) or whether or not Venezuela will or not withdraw from the Interamerican Human Rights Court, you may have missed many of these details of things happening at the same time:

-While President in pectore Maduro says that the new Labor Bill is the product of ten years of discussion, the truth is that the Chavista Government has simply ignored the issue. The 2000 Constitution mandated a new Labor Bill within a year, but Chavismo has never been the best friend of the workers or unions. In fact, the whole strategy has been all along for Chavez to be the President of the destitute, the unemployed, the one most receptive to receive gifts in exchange for votes. But with elections six months away, polls show that it is the working people who have turned the most against Chavez, thus the need to rush an improvised Bill, which will need lots of regulations in the future and contains a vacatio legis of a year in many cases.

-And while few paid attention, the “official” media spent the morning on Monday saying Chavez would sign the Labor Bill at the Teresa Carreño Theater, everyone who is anyone within Chavismo was there, but it was not to be. Despite all the efforts, the pain was too much and the President did not want to be seen in public in a wheelchair. Thus, “some” of the guests, curiously the civilians, were taken to the Miraflores Palace at the last minute, leaving the “people” and the military at the theater wondering what the hell had happened. The military was not too happy about it, least of all when the “Council of State” was finally appointed (another 12 year delay) with only civilians to “advise” a President that seldom accepts any advice.

-And yes, many thought the act was not taking place in the Presidential palace, as it did not look anything like the usual setting there. The whole thing had to be improvised, leaving sufficient space behind the lectern for Chavez to be wheeled in. Thus, the youthful low quality picture of Bolivar, the huge space behind the lectern and the limited space in front that left the military wondering why they were left out of the show and new civilian faces were brought in.

-And it gave people no comfort that German Saltron, Venezuela’s representative at the Interamerican Human Rights Court said that the Court was partial against Venezuela. Funny, there have been hundreds of accusations against Venezuela and hundreds of orders that Venezuela protect people and reporters from human rights violations. Despite this, the Venezuelan Government has acted in very few instances. Note too, that the Court has not been allowed to visit Venezuela since 2001. You have to wonder why? Is it the Court that is partial against Venezuela or is it Venezuela which consistently violates a human rights treaty that has Constitutional rank in Venezuela?

-And today to celebrate an exhibit incongruously named ExpoFonden, the Air Force had two Sukhoi’s fly over Caracas (one above), just to add to the general state of anxiety and nervousness in the population. It is a funny way to celebrate Fonden’s contributions to “development” to have these multi-million dollar planes fly over Caracas. Just think, one hour of a Sukhoi flight costs north of $40,000, but the robolution could care less.

-And in a country with the most incredible oil reserves in the world, the Minister of Energy and Oil denies there are gasoline shortages. Ramirez says that the problem was limited to “some” gas stations and it was due to the need to supply diesel to power plants. However, few cars in Caracas or Venezuela use diesel and the lines were huge on a holiday morning Tuesday. Some of my friends spent over an hour getting gas and others got so sick of it that they just went home. Another triumph of the revolution!