As I’ve written previously, my life as a worker began not long ago, exactly one month and six days ago.
With it there came in my mailbox a list of regulations that I had to comply with as an employee.
In the majority of workplaces across the country, there exist similar documents, though workers usually file them away after only glancing at them or without reading them at all.
This isn’t because they’re not interested in these rules; rather, it’s because they know they won’t have any disciplinary problems; they’ve learned to do what they’ve been told since they were children.
In terms of discipline, my childhood was somewhat different. I always got in trouble for talking to the person sitting beside me or getting up from the table without asking for permission. I believe that discipline and I have never quite seen eye to eye, that’s why I read all disciplinary regulations thoroughly.
I focused principally on the document, titled “Disciplinary Regulations.”
According to Resolution No. 4 of 1998 of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, this document is created and revised by the administration, in other words by the executive management at my job.
I continued reading and found the part on the obligations common to all workers.
Out of all the rules, what caught my attention were two points in particular:
– Obeying and respecting the institution’s directors and superiors,
– Maintaining a good disposition in the execution of missions and activities assigned, within and outside of the country.
Serious infractions of work rules include:
– Demonstrating any behavior or attitude contrary to the interests of the country, or that which causes a loss of dependability required to continue working at the institution.
– Disobeying the orders of superiors, or showing disrespect to leaders, officials or other workers,
– Abstaining from carrying out or completing any activity that has been assigned without justification,
These regulations left me generally perturbed. Let’s just say that I have a different idea of what should be required of workers’ rights and responsibilities.
A time to question worker participation
Presently we are at a moment of change in the country where the current economic structure will be rotated more than 180 degrees, a change authorized by the 1,000 delegates to the recent congress of the Cuban Communist Party.
Why not question the operation of the nation’s workplaces? Some Cubans wrote letters to the Granma newspaper making suggestions regarding the issue, but these were not echoed in the recently concluded Sixth Congress.
Greater democratization of the work sphere has the potential to raise the effectiveness and efficiency so often demanded and hoped for by the principal officials in charge of the island’s economy.
But it appears that this variant was not valued by the decision makers, nor has it been demanded by those who are required to obey.
Wouldn’t it be more gratifying for workers to labor under the direction of a representative elected at their job?
Instead, they obey orders (like soldiers, without protesting) from someone who’s come from who knows where and handed the privilege of directing by who know whom – and independently of the professional level of that person.
It should be a right of all workers to know how much their real contribution is from the work they carry out or for the services rendered, as well as make known what percentage goes to society in general and particularly to communities.
Certainty it’s more attractive to work when you know where that part of the wage you don’t receive is directed. In this way one’s contribution ceases to be abstract and becomes concrete – you know, for example, if it’s for building a nursing home or for importing beans.
Improvement of the Cuban economy doesn’t depend exclusively on how many timbiriches (food stands) open up or how much foreign capital contributes.
The root of the problem is the lack of decision making in the hands of workers, the non-existence of effective power over the means of production.
Without greater democratization, the Cuban economy will rise up in flight only to fall again.