A Mexican labor overhaul bill will not be fast-tracked through the lower house on the second go-around, but it is not “frozen” and will be handled like a standard piece of legislation, a lawmaker said.
Carlos Aceves del Olmo, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, gave that assessment and said that on Tuesday the Labor and Social Welfare Committee he heads will formally receive the bill delivered by Senate.
He added that it will be handled like any other ordinary legislation and will not be fast-tracked as it was in September.
President Felipe Calderon sent the labor overhaul bill to Congress on Sept. 1 for its analysis and approval in a period of 60 days.
Late that same month, the lower house - where the PRI and its allies are dominant - approved it with modifications, with lawmakers eliminating some provisions of the original bill aimed at making unions more transparent.
The Senate, where the PRI lacks a majority, subsequently passed the bill on Oct. 23 but it reinstituted the controversial articles calling for more transparency with the unions, most of them firmly allied with the PRI.
Senators from other parties joined together to reinsert the articles into the bill, which has been taken up again by the lower house.
The union transparency provisions include a requirement that labor leaders be elected in free and secret voting, as opposed to by a show of hands.
Lawmaker Marti Batres, of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, said the return of the bill to the lower house marks a good opportunity to debate it from scratch in a bid to achieve “true reform that benefits the country.”
The debate is taking place during the transition process that will see outgoing President Felipe Calderon, of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, hand over power to the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto on Dec. 1.
Calderon’s government says the labor overhaul bill will promote formal employment and regulate outsourcing, a practice that has become widespread in Mexico in recent years.
The legislation also would allow employers to hire workers for three-month trial periods and dismiss them if they are not up to the job, a workplace arrangement not contemplated by current labor law, and pay hourly wages.
Last month, Mexican academic Angel Lopez Montiel criticized the departure from the current system of a set monthly wage.
“Hourly pay might look like the same system that is used in the United States,” Monterrey Tech researcher Angel Lopez Montiel told Efe.
The difference, however, is that hourly pay in the United States is much higher than in Mexico, he added.
The bill was introduced by Calderon and is intended to “open employment opportunities for those who currently do not have a job,” PAN lawmaker Juan Bueno Torio said in late September.
Before the bill was passed in the lower house on Sept. 29, leftist lawmakers stormed the speaker’s platform and supporters of the bill were forced to lead the session from a spectators’ gallery.
Demonstrations against the bill organized by the UNT and CTM were held outside the legislative building.
The controversial overhaul of labor law was the first order of business for the Congress that emerged from Mexico’s July 1 general elections.
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