A whole LOTTT of labor absenteeism

Organic Labor Law, a legislation so awesome that makes working optional.
LOTTT = To Each According to His Need, From Each According to Whether He Felt Like Getting Up That Day.

The case of ice cream maker EFE is not unique. Since the new Labor Law (LOTTT) was approved last year, labor absenteeism in Venezuela has increased alarmingly.

A report in El Nacional shows that some companies are facing 46% of workers’ absenteeism. A recent survey of business leaders find 44% say labor absenteeism has worsened since LOTTT passed, and 50% say productivity has dropped.

Why? Because the LOTTT makes it virtually impossible for companies to fire a worker without his or her consent – so why bother turning up to work?

Labor Law expert and UCV professor Pedro Casale said: “The employer has no defense rights. There are few chances for a justified dismissal and this excessive protection has made absenteeism quite easy…”

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. I agree completely. Just look at the guy at the top. He hasn’t shown up for work in over 2 months and is still on the payroll. Somos Chavez.

    • No no no this is exactly the wrong conclusion to draw from what GEHA wrote.

      There isn’t a country anywhere in the world where absenteeism wouldn’t spike considerably if you passed a law like LOTTT.

      You think German restaurant dishwashers wouldn’t stay home, away from 10 hour shifts ending at 2 a.m. in hot, greasy, sweaty conditions for low pay if they knew their bosses couldn’t fire them even if they showed up only every other day?

      You think Swedish hospital cleaners wouldn’t skip work much more if they knew they’d get paid just the same if they stayed home instead of mopping up blood and piss and puke from E.R. and I.C.U. floors?

      You think South Korean factory workers ENJOY doing repetitive work on the assembly line all day every day and would turn up even if you unlinked effort from reward?

      A lot of work *everywhere* is low-pay, low-status and not very pleasant. People do it because if they don’t they can’t buy groceries.

      It’s about INSTITUTIONS – people are the same everywhere.

      • Agreed. Who among us, in general, would show up every day for work if we didn’t need to? As a contractor, would I be motivated to work as much if I got paid the same amount whether or not I finished the contract? What a laugh.

        This is universal and basic, even the Chinese, now generally agreed to be very hard working, had an education system in shambles and unproductive manufacturing back when the mainland attempted socialist work groups. If the Chinese can undergo such a transformation based on incentives in just a generation, I’m sure the same can apply elsewhere.

      • I agree with you 99 per cent, Quico. But just to be provocative, I can’t resist adding a politically-incorrect rider to that. I don’t think you can entirely exclude cultural factors. South Korean, German or Swedish self-employed builders don’t break for Christmas in mid-December and arrive back in late January, just in time to do ten days’ work before they head off to the beach for carnival (or whatever the local equivalent). I’m talking about people who get paid by the day, or the job, and who don’t get to buy groceries unless they show up. And they don’t abandon a job, leaving tools on-site and with just 15 bricks left to lay, and go to work for someone else who offers a better day-rate.

  2. Now that you mention EFE again, I had to remember that scene from Jim Jarnmusch´s Down by Law, where Roberto Benigni, John Lurie and Tom Waits sit in their prison cell crying: “I scream, your scream, we al scream for ice cream”.

    • Sounds like it’s just ludicruously easy to game the system. The burden of proof is always on the employer. So an employee can bring in a “medical certificate” saying he’s temporarily unable to work that’s signed in crayon by his 5 year old, and that becomes legal grounds for paid leave until the employer can go to a labour tribunal and prove it forged, and it REMAINS legal pending appeal…

      And that’s just one example…

      • Actually, its even worst,almost Kafkian. In the case that the employee is protected by the decree against unjustified dismissal, is the Labor’s Inspector Office that has jurisdiction to decide on the matters. Usually, the Office grants injunctions to workers who have to be reincorporated and paid until the Office rules on the case, which can take years. The employee always wins, in the last two years I’ve only seen one case when a employer has won. If you want to appeal the judgment of the Inspector you have to go to Labor Court to request the nullity and wait for years until it’s decided. Usually employers pay off the employee for him to sign a resignation letter or leave him in the company because it’s too expensive to fire him.

    • John:

      I have a video tape, taken in my factory, in color, with audio, with faces easily recognizable of one worker threatening another with a very visible knife over how that worker should vote in an upcoming union vote and we could not get the bastard fired after we showed it to the Labor Ministry.

      So you tell me, you think some absenteeism is gonna get folks fired?

      The word, straight from the labor inspector for our area is:

      “NO ONE gets fired or laid off, FOR ANY REASON. This comes straight from the top”

  3. “LOTTT makes it virtually impossible for companies to fire a worker without his or her consent – so why bother turning up to work?”

    I haven’t read the new LOTTT, but could you (or anyone) point out the changes in the new law, as compared with the old law, that make it harder to fire an employee?

    There is a chance the law itself is not unreasonable, and is only the way the authorities are implementing it that has led to absenteeism.

    I also find it weird that this problem arose immediately after the law took effect. What’s that? The employees read the law and understood they could get away with not going to work? And then were they waiting for the day the law would take effect and said “woohoo! let’s go to the beach”?

    I doesn’t make sense to me.

    • According to experts, the LOTTT is heavily favored to the worker, because it puts all the burden of proof to the employer. And the worker must agree to his/her own firing.


      And the Labor Inspectorate, the institution looking out for this law, usually sides with the worker. I know personally of cases where people who own small business have an ordeal to fire someone and in every single ocassion, the Inspectorate sides with the worker. “The worker is always right” is the current policy, even in cases if he/she isn’t.

      • So, according to what you say, the problem is more one of the implementation of the law than what the law actually says, i.e., the “always siding with the worker”, even in cases where he (she) is not right.

        But then I would have another question: Wasn’t it the case that the inspectorate always sided with the worker even before the approval of this law?

        I thought it was.

        • “But then I would have another question: Wasn’t it the case that the inspectorate always sided with the worker even before the approval of this law?”

          Yes and no. It was hard to fire a worker for cause if you had to depend on the testimony of another worker, for example, but it was not impossible.

          If you had 3 unjustified absences in a 3 month period, and you documented it, you could fire a worker with “single severance pay” and that would be that.

          Today, no matter what the reason is, you cannot fire a worker with “single severance pay” you get them to resign with an additional “bonus payment” on top of the “double severance” that an “unjustified firing would have gotten in the past.

          • I know of other cases exactly like this. The law is extreme, but it is even worse because there seems to be a de facto veto against firing.

  4. Totally predictable. I suppose the key question is how long Venezuelan oil revenues will forestall the inevitable Soviet Union style economic collapse. Still a long way down yet… though supporting Fidel’s great great grandchildren might just be the (large) straw that breaks the camel’s back.

  5. Esto no es por la nueva Ley; la Inspectoría del Trabajo no le da curso a casos documentados para despedir a un trabajador simplemente porque no los recibe desde hace mucho tiempo.
    Sin prueba no hay delito.

  6. I wonder what the law is in China , or Vietnam or even in Cuba and how its applied in Venezuela when its the government or a government company doing the firing ?

    • If you have a claim for severance, back pay or benefits from the government, from what I have seen, you are screwed. They will fly you across the country to attend a political rally, but if you want your back pay, forget it.

  7. “XX!st Century Socialism”…what a concept!!!!! You cannot evict thieving tenants that rent your property and don’t pay or cannot fire workers that don’t show up for work.Taken in conjunction with all the corruption, crime, lack of morals/ethics by the majority,staggering inflation and other societal ills in Venezuela, it will be a long,long time before this country looks like anything like a country in the XX1st century.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here