Mexico pushes vote on controversial outsourcing bill into 2021

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has pushed into next year the planned approval of a contentious bill aimed at sharply limiting companies’ ability to subcontract labor, according to a letter from the government sent to lawmakers and seen by Reuters on Monday.

The letter, whose authenticity was confirmed by a government official and a congressional source, said the parliamentary debate on the legislation would be postponed until February, when Congress reconvenes from its winter recess.

Under the draft law championed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, companies would be barred from subcontracting jobs to third-party firms, which now employ some 4.6 million workers throughout Mexico, except in cases where workers are needed for special services beyond a company’s main business.

Since its presentation on Nov. 12, worried business leaders have held several rounds of talks with the government in an effort to revise the proposal, which Lopez Obrador had urged Congress to approve as quickly as possible.

The two sides last met on Friday night and are due to continue talking this week. Earlier on Monday, Lopez Obrador said some sort of agreement would be reached this week and stressed that talks were proceeding well.

Business lobbies are eager to avoid the new rules taking effect too abruptly, so delaying debate in Congress until February should give them more breathing space.

Reporting by Sharay Angulo; Additional reporting by Dave Graham; Writing by Laura Gottesdiener; Editing by Stephen Coates