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Cuba report: Defenseless Workers

de Frank Correa     People in Need
Joi, 8 decembrie 2011, 20:00 English | Regional Europe

Cuban workers are virtually defenseless. The reason is that the labour law offices in Cuban work centres, which are supposed to defend worker's rights, are but an extended arm of the government and the Communist Party.

I had a chance to see it in real life when I visited “La taverna”, the only bar-restaurant in the neighbourhood of Jaimanitas (it is located at the intersection of the Fifth Avenue and the cross created by the 232 and 234 streets, i.e., by all means the most central point of the neighbourhood), which has been recently re-opened after several renovations.

The renovation works involved rearrangement of the display counter, furnishing of the restaurant with new tables and chairs, installation of air-conditioning and, also, improvement of the offered services. The adjustments and changes have really done good to the restaurant, but what has remained the same is the struggle of the restaurant's staff to overcome the obstacles imposed by the rigid laws governing the restaurant's operation.

One of the staff at the bar told me that recently she has been unfairly punished by an authority carrying out an inspection and almost lost her job. The reason was that one of the inspectors found that she didn't have a weight chart. She explained that she didn't weigh things because she only worked at the bar.

Still, they objected that she had failed to produce a weight chart and when she wanted to argue with them, the manager told her not to worry and sign the fine to confirm it because he wanted to avoid creating an unpleasant situation during the inspection. He assured her that he would settle the matter later. However, a few days after the inspection, a circular was delivered to “La taberna”, directing the company to sanction the bartender for the failure to present a weight chart by retaining her monthly salary.

I told her to go the Labour Law Office and appeal against this decision. She countered that it would be useless because the authority is headed by Mr. Chicho, who is simultaneously the manager and secretary of the nucleus of the Party. The first thing she was advised was not to complain if she didn't want to lose her job. Also, outside her official job she earned more than her monthly salary in the restaurant.

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