HAVANA – Layoffs planned to eliminate some 500,000 state jobs in Cuba this year will get underway this week, the communist-ruled island’s only legal union said Monday.
The official weekly Trabajadores cited a speech by CTC chief Salvador Valdes in the eastern province of Holguin, in which he said it was the union’s responsibility to “be the guarantor” of the process of labor reorganization that will begin Tuesday.
Valdes said that while this is “an administrative process,” the union must keep watch to make sure it complies with what has been established for each step of the process to reduce state labor rolls.
The Cuban government estimates that in 2011 it will definitively eliminate 146,000 state jobs, while some 351,000 public servants will enter other forms of independent employment as part of a program of reforms and austerity measures.
Of those 351,000, at least 100,000 will enter the field of self-employment, according to official estimates.
The plan, which foresees the reduction of “inflated staffs” and the incorporation of 1.8 million workers into the non-state sector over a five-year period, will be ratified by the ruling Communist Party at its 6th Congress, set for late April.
Valdes stressed that the CTC, as the workers’ representative, must “avoid violations, paternalism, favoritism and any other negative tendencies.”
He also urged the government “to convince them (the workers) of the necessity of applying these measures for sake of the nation’s economy, with the security that, whatever happens, no one will be left unprotected.”
The expansion of the private sector in Cuba, with the possibility of founding small companies and businesses, is one of the chief measures undertaken by the government of Gen. Raul Castro to “modernize” the socialist model and deal with the country’s economic crisis.
In 2009 Cuba had a total of 143,800 self-employed workers.
The government hopes that in 2011 some 250,000 more workers will enter that sector, and that the increase will boost government tax revenues by $1 billion next year. EFE