Peru's Congress repeals labor reform in blow to weakened Humala

lunes 26 de enero de 2015 18:20 GYT

LIMA Jan 26 (Reuters) - Peru's Congress repealed a new labor law on Monday after thousands took to the streets to protest the legislation that cut benefits for young workers, part of reforms aimed at reviving the economy.

Demonstrators chanted "victory!" and banged drums after hearing the news that lawmakers, including eight from President Ollanta Humala's party, had approved repealing the law in a vote of 91 to 114.

The reversal dealt a blow to Humala's pro-business measures in the midst of the worst economic slowdown in five years.

Late on Friday, in a rare speech to the nation, Humala defended the law, arguing that nearly two million young people toiling in the informal economy would receive labor rights as a result of it.

Critics derided the law as unconstitutional and discriminatory and said it would encourage employers to phase out older workers to cut costs.

The reform would have allowed employers to give workers aged 18 to 24 half the amount of vacation time mandated by law. Companies would also not have to pay fees for unemployment funds for young workers or the twice-yearly bonuses other employees enjoy.

Worries that unrest would break out at Monday's protest helped drag the local sol currency to a new five-year low against the U.S. dollar, traders said.

The legislative defeat highlighted Humala's waning influence over Congress, where a fresh defection from his party on Sunday transformed an opposition group into the biggest voting bloc.

The ruling party's coalition Gana Peru now holds 34 of the 130 seats in the single-chamber Congress, one less than a group affiliated with jailed former president Alberto Fujimori.   Continuación...