This post was contributed by Valentina Albarrán, Associate, Norton Rose Fulbright Caracas
A few months after the 1st year anniversary of the Venezuelan New Labor Law the legislative body has proven itself to be a modern take on the Pandora´s Box myth.
Of the many controversial aspects of the law, there is still one that hasn´t been widely discussed or even yet fully implemented, thus it remains a mystery.
The aspect in question is the one included in articles 497 and 498 of the New Labor Law, regarding the creation of the Worker´s Councils.
According to the Organic Law on Employment, Male and Female Workers; the labor of workers, is a key instrument for the State to achieve its primary functions and reach its goals. The notion of the Employer lost the distinction of being in charge of a company to simply being in charge of employees.
To complete the separation of the notions of Employer and that of the Company, the New Labor Law introduced the figure of the Worker´s Councils.
The Worker´s Councils is the brand new player in the social process of labor, according the cited articles; the character is created with the objective of representing the interests of the people and to be instruments of the people´s power.
The Worker´s Councils are a different organization from the Labor Unions, they can work side by side, but not together, and they do not have the same competences. The Worker´s Councils seem to be created to completely administrate the company, not to co-administrate or integrate with the Employer, but to substitute the Employer. Its attributions may include the hiring and training of new workers, decision making and policy making amongst its company, and many other that will be determined on a special law.
The Government has not fallen short to create some Worker´s Councils inside the State owned companies such as Mercal (State owned supermarket brand) CVAL (Venezuelan Food Corporation) and others. It has gone as far as to organize conventions and other forms of reunions to discuss the progresses made and the measures ahead.
But the scenario is not as bright as it may seem, there are many groups including the government friendly Bolivarian Socialist Workers Central who are not so pleased with the implementation of the Workers Council on the companies.
The Bolivarian Socialist Workers Central believes that the Worker´s Councils should not be implemented until a special law that defines its specific attributions and limits, isn´t in force. They also believe that there is a flaw in the conception of the councils, since they seem to be put forward by a group of “pseudo leaders” who are putting at risk the unity of the Labor Unions, and who aren´t even real workers.
The changes to the New Labor Law seem to be essentially a move towards the socialist state of labor proclaimed by the Government in an effort to eliminate the so called ways of capitalist exploitation. We can only hope that the further implementation of the Worker´s Councils will be decided between all the main players of the labor force, and not as a form of abduction of the means of production for the sole purpose of introducing alien factors to the companies.