Mexican labor reform bill faces delay after dispute
* Law could be stalled after dispute over union transparency
* PRI leader says sections of the bill could be passed
By Miguel Gutierrez
MEXICO CITY, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Mexico's efforts to carry out the biggest overhaul of its labor laws in four decades face delay after the party of incoming President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Thursday a dispute over the bill meant more time was needed to consider it.
The leader in the lower house of Congress of Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, said the bill no longer needed to be voted on by the end of October after the Senate insisted on changes to the proposal this week.
"We're going to give ourselves enough days and weeks to carry out the aim of harmonizing this law," PRI lower house leader Manlio Fabio Beltrones told reporters.
Presented by outgoing President Felipe Calderon at the start of September, the proposed law contains a raft of measures, including changes that would make it easier for firms to hire and fire workers and shorten labor disputes. Calderon was taking advantage of a new provision that allows the president to try to fast-track legislation through Congress in two months.
But Calderon's bill also included measures aimed at opening up Mexico's powerful labor unions to greater scrutiny, by forcing them to divulge how they managed members' fees, and allowing free and secret elections of union leaders.
That was too much for the PRI, for which the unions have been a keystone of support for years. So the party stripped those elements from the bill before the measure left the lower house, using the slim majority it has there with its political allies.
But the PRI lacks a majority in the Senate, where Calderon's conservative National Action Party, or PAN, combined with leftist parties in Congress to reinsert the provisions.
Beltrones said the Senate's decision to return the bill to the lower house ended its fast-track status.
That could prompt a tug of war in Congress, potentially stalling the bill and condemning it to the same fate that other efforts at overhauling the labor laws have experienced since 1970.
Beltrones said Congress could still seek to pass sections of the bill, leaving out the controversial measures.
He insisted the lower house would at the very latest back a labor reform shortly after Pena Nieto took office on Dec. 1.
"The PRI's parliamentary group in the lower house is committed to President Enrique Pena Nieto having a labor reform that will take care of all the principles and give us guarantees and stability on the labor market," he said.
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