Venezuelanalysis.com brings readers this detailed, chapter by chapter summary of the new Organic Law of Work and Workers (LOTTT), a law which has been under discussion in both the national assembly and by workers and movements since 2003. The law contains 554 articles.
Title 1 – NORMS AND CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES
Chapter 1- General Regulations, Articles 1-17
This chapter, as is customary, outlines the object and range of the law.
The object of the law is to “protect work as a social deed” and to protect workers’ rights, recognising workers as creators of socially produced wealth and as protagonists in education and work processes.
It also aims to regulate the legal situations and relations stemming from the process of production of goods and services, protecting work as a “liberating process”.
The law applies to both Venezuelans and “foreigners” working in the country and to workers contracted to work outside the country, and while no rights or regulations in the law may be disqualified by worker collective agreements, such agreements can go beyond the law if the workers desire. Armed bodies, such as police and the National Bolivarian Armed Forces are exempt from the law. All other public or state workers fall under this law.
Only the national executive and legislative powers have authority to implement and regulate the law, state and municipal governments cannot create laws or ordinances based on the law.
Importantly, the law states in article 11 that labour related justice is “free of charge” in places of law and work administration, hence fee rates can’t be established, nor payment demanded for services. Public notaries cannot charge fees.
The official language of Venezuela is Castilian (Latin American Spanish), and indigenous languages are the official language of indigenous peoples, hence publications, training manuals, and so on should be in Spanish or in the indigenous language, according to the situation.
International agreements and treaties that Venezuela has signed will be applied obligatorily, as long as they are “more favourable” than national work legislation.
Another important point is article 17, which states that, “Every person has a right to social security as a public service of a non-profit character. Workers, whether or not they are dependent on a boss, will enjoy this right”.
“House work is an economic activity that creates added value and produces wealth and well being. House wives have the right to social security, in accordance with the law.”
Chapter 2 – Guiding Principles, Articles 18 -24
The law is based on the following principles: social justice and solidarity, the “untouchableness” of worker rights and benefits, and the prohibition of any discrimination according to race, age, gender, social condition, creed, or any other condition.
Teenagers doing work that could affect their “integral development” is prohibited.
In terms of gender equality, article 20 states that, “The state guarantees the equality of women and men in the practice of the right to work. Employers will apply the criteria of equality and fairness during selection, training, promotions, and work stability, professional training and remuneration, and are obliged to encourage equal participation of women and men in leadership responsibilities”.
Exclusion, preference, or restriction in access to work and work conditions based on race, gender, age, civil state, unionisation, religion, political opinion, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, or social origin, is prohibited. Protecting maternity and paternity rights, children, or people with disabilities is not considered discrimination.
The legislative process and administration exists to offer workers and employers solutions to conflicts, and such processes should be free, quick, efficient, fair, accessible, impartial, transparent and without “formalisms”.
Chapter 3 – The right to work and the responsibility to work, Articles 25-29
Article 25 states that “the social process of work has, as its main objective, to overcome forms of capitalist exploitation, as well as to produce goods and services that guarantee our economic independence, satisfy human needs, through the just distribution of wealth, and create material, social, and spiritual conditions that allow for the family to be the fundamental space for the integral development of people..”
The “social process of work” should contribute to guaranteeing: independence and national sovereignty, economic sovereignty, human development for a “dignified existence” and economic growth that “allows for the elevation of the standard of living of the population, food sovereignty and security, protection of the environment and the rational use of national resources. The social process of work is based on “protagonistic and participative democracy, social justice, and the co-responsibility between the state and society to guarantee complete social inclusion and integral human development”.
According to article 26, “Every person as a right to work and the responsibility to work according to their capacity and aptitude, and to obtain a productive occupation, properly paid, and that provides for dignified and decent existence”.
Where there are at least ten workers, 90% or more must be Venezuelan, according to article 27. Payment of foreigners should not exceed 20% of total payments made. Refugees are exempt, and when hiring foreigners, those with Venezuelan children, and those with at least 5 years residency, will be given preference.
The work ministry can authorise exceptions in certain cases, such as when special technical knowledge is required and Venezuelans aren’t available. The exception is based on the condition that employers then train Venezuelans in the area.
Chapter 4 – Worker protection, Articles 30 – 34
No one can be stopped from working, nor obliged to work against their will, and the ministry of work can impede the replacement of a worker who has an occupational illness or reduced capacity, for example.
Children under 14 are no allowed to work, except for in artistic or cultural activities that have been authorised by the corresponding body for protection of children and adolescents.
No one can impede “free transit” by road, or other paths to work centres. In work places, selling and consuming alcohol or drugs, gambling, prostitution, and weapons are prohibited.
Chapter 5 – The right to work, Articles 35 – 50
This chapter defines dependent and non-dependent workers as those working under an employer, or not, a “leading worker” as one who takes parts in decisions or who represents the employer, and an inspection worker as one who checks the work of others.
Article 43 describes the responsibilities of the employer, including guaranteeing safe working conditions. They are also responsible for work related accidents or occupational illnesses caused to anyone working under them. They are obliged to provide prevention delegates with the necessary facilities and to adopt recommendations made by health and safety committees (article 44).
After defining outsourced labour in article 47 as “fraud committed by employers in order to distort, deny, or create obstacles for the application of the labour law” this law prohibits outsourced labour in article 48. That means that the following is not permitted: contracting work entities for a public work, service, and so on that is permanent and directly related to the productive process of the hirer, hiring workers through intermediaries in order to avoid obligations to those being hired, creating work entities in order to avoid obligations, and so on.
Chapter 6 – Prescription of Actions, Articles 51, 2
This chapter relates to demands and legal action.
Title 2 – WORK RELATIONS
Chapter 1 – General dispositions, Articles 53-54
This brief chapter defines when a work relation exists (when someone gives, and someone else receives a service). Those providing a service to an organisation with no profit motive, voluntarily, are exempt. Work will be renumerated, and where it isn’t, punishment will be applied- defined later in the law.
Chapter 2 – Work contract, Articles 55- 65
The work contract establishes the conditions under which the person provides their services. Wages can’t be below the established national minimum wage, nor less than what other workers are paid for the same work, in the same establishment.
It’s preferred that the work contract is in writing, where there is nothing in writing, the statements made by the worker are assumed to be true until proven otherwise. A copy of the contract should be provided to both employer and employee, and should specify: name, I.D number, the name and description of the job, starting date, duration time, work to be carried out, the duration of the working day or shift, the salary and its form of payment, the collective agreement that applies, and so on.
Contracts which were for a determined amount of time and have been renewed twice will be considered permanent. Further, workers can’t be made to work for more than a year on a limited contract. Contracts for specific public works are apart from this, and last the whole time required to execute the work.
A work contract then, can only be for a limited amount of time under the following conditions: when the nature of the service requires it, substituting another worker, or Venezuelans working outside the country.
Employers have a number of obligations towards workers contracted to work outside the country, including paying for transport and food, and providing written information about the general life conditions in the country.
Chapter 3 – Replacing an employer, Articles 66 -70