Mexico’s Calderon Submits Labor Bill With Annual Message

Mexican President Felipe Calderon sent Congress a labor bill that would ease the process for hiring and firing workers and a measure to increase local government transparency along with his annual message today.

Interior Minister Alejandro Poire delivered the document to lawmakers in Mexico City on behalf of Calderon, who’s due to leave office when his term expires in three months. Calderon will speak about the message on Sept. 3, according to a statement today on the website of Mexico’s presidency.

Calderon submitted the legislation under a law, passed during his administration, that lets the president propose two priority bills at the start of each Congressional session and requires lawmakers to vote on them within 30 days.

During his six-year tenure, Calderon has lobbied Congress to pass labor changes that would make it easier for companies to get rid of workers, overhaul the tax system to increase government revenue and open the oil industry to more private investment. Mexico’s gross domestic product has expanded an average 1.9 percent a year under Calderon, about half the pace of Brazil, though Mexico’s growth rate has overtaken that of Latin America’s only larger economy in the past two years.

Union Transparency

The labor bill is “an encapsulation of all the initiatives that have been made, that includes all the topics that people have said should be in a labor reform,” Hector Larios, a senator for Calderon’s National Action Party, told reporters today. It includes measures to increase union transparency, which have been debated in Congress in the past, Larios said, according to an e-mailed transcript of his comments.

Mexico’s electoral tribunal yesterday named Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party as president elect, rejecting a challenge by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party, the runner-up in Mexico’s July 1 vote. Lopez Obrador had sought to overturn the result on charges Pena Nieto’s PRI party bought votes and used illegal campaign funds.

Pena Nieto, who is scheduled to take office on Dec. 1, returning his party to power after 12 years of rule by Calderon’s PAN party, also said during the presidential campaign that he supports overhauling the labor code.

In his message, Calderon praised Mexico’s achievements in tackling organized crime. During his administration, Mexico has captured or killed 22 of the nation’s 37 most-wanted criminals, seized more than 114 tons of cocaine, almost 11,000 tons of marijuana and more than 154,000 weapons, Calderon said.

Killings related to drug violence in Mexico totaled 1,341 in August, the second-highest monthly rate since Calderon took office in December 2006 and sent troops to fight crime groups, newspaper Milenio reported today on its website. Last month’s toll pushed the number of killings during Calderon’s tenure to 55,416, according to the Mexico City-based newspaper.

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