Venezuelan workers welcomed legislation today aimed at improving a broad range of benefits.
President Hugo Chavez heralded the law, which came into effect yesterday, as a means of giving employees benefits they had been denied under previous governments.
Mr Chavez and his team have fought hard for the legislation, which increases severance payments, increases maternity leave from four to six months and reduces the working week from 44 hours to 40.
Vice-President Elias Jaua said that Mr Chavez had made the law a top priority in order to “to dignify workers.”
Most of the president’s political adversaries, including opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, have not publicly criticised the legislation because it benefits approximately 7.7 million Venezuelans who will be voting in an October 7 presidential ballot.
But representatives of Venezuela’s business lobby claimed the legislation approved by executive decree could put the survival of small businesses at risk because many will not be able to meet new obligations to employees.