Temer Seeks Boost in Popularity with Labor Law Reform
Brazil’s Senate recently passed the much-anticipated labor law reform that has been awaiting a vote for months. President Michel Temer announced his plans for the reform at the end of 2016, calling it a “great Christmas present” for the country. But for months now the Senate has been waiting to vote. And the vote in favor of the reform could not have come at a better time as Temer faces claims that he bribed the chairman of the world’s largest meatpacking company, JBS.
At this point, it is anyone’s guess whether or not Temer will be tried on corruption charges. Lawmakers are split in their predictions as to whether the lower house of Congress will approve an open trial against Temer in the Supreme Court. For any sitting president to be tried, the lower house of Congress must pass a two-thirds affirmative vote.
The labor law reform may be the push that Temer needs to increase his popularity (currently in the single digits according to recent polls). The reform bill was passed by 50 votes to 26 after hours of debate. The bill promises to create more jobs in an economy wracked by unemployment, and it is the first labor reform to go into effect in seven decades. In line with many of Temer’s policies to entice foreign investors to Brazil, the reform is also meant to provide a labor framework that is more palatable for foreign businesses.
The new labor law will allow businesses to be more flexible with work hours and vacation time. It also sets new limits on labor lawsuits. The reform, however, does have its critics. Those who oppose it argue it will weaken labor unions by eliminating mandatory union dues. They also say it will loosen too much the framework under which part-time and temporary employees work.
Despite the bill’s overwhelming popularity and promise of increased jobs, it may not be enough to save Temer from the fate of his predecessor. If Temer falls, he will be the second Brazilian president to face impeachment in less than a year. Temer may have helped save Brazil’s labor law, but can Brazil’s new labor law help save Temer?