Workers in Peru are celebrating the repeal this week of a labor law that targeted young workers, a huge victory that followed weeks of street demonstrations and protests by working people and their unions.
Peru’s Congress voted 114–91 to repeal the law, which reduced salaries and benefits for workers under age 25. A recent poll showed only one-fifth of Peruvians supported the law.
“They never asked young people what they thought,” says one worker, who took part in the protests.
Ultimately, workers say, the law would not only have harmed young workers.
Jorge, an apparel worker at a Topitop factory that employs 2,400 workers, puts it this way: “What the company wants is to fire us and replace us with younger workers without any benefits.” Adds Abel, also a garment worker: “What we are doing is defending ourselves, our children and our future grandchildren.”
As students, young workers and the Peruvian labor movement look toward upcoming campaigns to push for approval of a general labor law, an increase in the minimum wage and the repeal of another recent law that makes it easier for employers to conduct mass layoffs, the Solidarity Center plans to continue to work alongside union allies at the workplace, federation and confederation level to identify lessons learned from this experience and ensure that young workers can continue to provide leadership in union building and policy campaigns.