Daisy Valera

HAVANA TIMES — “United for a Prosperous and Sustainable Socialism” is the motto under which the “Cuban Workers Federation” (Central de Trabajadores de Cuba, or CTC) will convene this coming May Day (surely it’s a more optimistic slogan than “Work Hard!”).

The official motto covered the front pages of several newspapers as the organization exhorted us to participate in the materialization of the guidelines of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).

Could we expect any another position from the CTC? That would be naive.

In the past five decades, the Cuban Workers Union has added to its sad list of acts of disloyalty, a list that includes the prohibition of other unions, employment records used for blacklisting, denial of the right to strike, and its support of the 2008 Social Security Act (which added five years to the retirement age).

Then, in just over 13 months, the CTC has changed its line.

In 2012, with the wave of dismissals based on “demonstrated suitability” and supported by the union, it called on workers to participate in and discuss work plans and the budget (see Bohemia magazine, in Spanish).

At this time, possibly thanks to its passive attitude taken in the face of mass layoffs, the main union in the country chooses to keep its members disempowered rather than to promote their participation in workplace decision-making.

Carmen Rosa Lopez

This was corroborated by the new top union official Carmen Rosa Lopez, who said, “It’s clear that the workers don’t approve the plan, but they’ll contribute to fulfilling it with their labor” (see Trabajadores newspaper, in Spanish).

The statements by the new leader of the CTC didn’t stop there, as Lopez takes the opportunity to highlight the attitude of the organization’s leading administrators. She explained that the role of the trade union movement is to mobilize workers around the main tasks of the country.

This is a position that dispels any doubt about the possible participation and involvement of Cuban workers in the “updating of socialism.”

The wearing of masks has grown old. What’s becoming clearer is a more realistic picture of the only organization that can legally represent the island’s workforce. It can be seen as one that’s halfway between a dues collection box and a puppet theater where the management pulls all the strings.

So what can be done in the face of such visceral but forgotten problems as rising unemployment, underemployment and token wages? What can be done to prevent very likely exploitation of Cuban laborers – this time by multinational corporations, for which the government will open the doors?

The CTC is choosing its side, but the workers aren’t on it. Belonging to the union’s ranks only serves to give it credit at the international level.

What’s required now is the establishment of new mechanisms of information and communication between those who work for the government and between the self-employed.

What are needed are new unions capable of fighting for workers’ demands rather than bowing their heads, agreeing and obeying.


Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.

20 thoughts on “Cuba’s CTC Union Chooses Its Side

  • More evidence.

    You invented that quote and didn’t read the interview. And even if you read you affirm that there *are* differences between revolutionary leftists. And you are inventing conspiracy theories out of thin air.

    I acknowledge very well the difference between a neoliberal and a neoconservative for example, why do you keep reducing the ideology opposed of yours into the same sack of potatoes other than propagandist/trolling purposes?

    Fool no one.

  • I enjoyed the interview with Celia Hart. It is interesting to learn that when she broke with doctrinaire “Fidelist” ideology and embraced Trotsky’s ideas, she was expelled from the Cuban Communist Party. Still it must have been reassuring to her when Fidel told her “Don’t worry, nobody will harm a hair on your pretty head”. How sweet of him.

    And then, quite surprisingly, she was killed in a car accident with a tree. Too bad nobody told the tree not to harm a hair on her head. Those darned Cuban trees, always jumping out and smashing into cars.

  • Let those two ‘think’ whatever they want, Cort. They are propagandists and thus, will never ever be interested on actually learning something or read anything that does not add to their provocative agenda. You see that ‘Griffin’ didn’t even bother to see those links you managed to gather, instead invoking his personal distorted ‘truth’ that the dispute between Stalin and Trotsky was nothing more than ‘petty, murderous bickering among narcissists’. It’s the equivalent of a child covering his ears and yelling ‘I’m not listening! I’m not listening!’

  • Petty, murderous bickering among narcissists to be precise. I thank you and Luis for so ably illustrating exactly what I am talking about.

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