BRASILIA Brazil’s lower house of Congress on Wednesday approved the main text of a bill to relax the country’s restrictive labor laws, a main plank of President Michel Temer’s efforts to bolster investment and pull the economy out of its worst recession ever.
The measure passed by 296-177 in an expected victory to Temer who is struggling with low approval ratings amid a sweeping corruption scandal.
Despite the victory by a wide margin, Wednesday’s vote shows that Temer still faces some resistance from his allies to secure enough support to approve his unpopular proposal to reform a costly pension system.
The labor reform vote was seen by the Temer administration as a thermometer of support for the pension proposal.
Approval of the labor bill by the lower house came two days before a national strike and demonstrations called by labor unions and leftist parties to protest Temer’s reform program that they say undermines workers’ rights to the benefit of business interests.
Backers of the labor bill say it will modernize employment rules that date from the 1950s and encourage investment by lowering labor costs for businesses.
Temer has made concessions to make the pension reform more palatable to lawmakers facing elections next year.