Observing a Contradiction

Daisy Valera

Havana street scene.

In a great many businesses, homes, workplaces, and even on the bus, the topic of conversation that comes up most is that related to the workforce restructuring now underway.

The government is carrying out a process of “updating” the island’s economic model and is making projections for the island’s economy for 2011-2015  period.

Many people are anxious; they comment, reflect, give their opinions, wait for the decisions, and in some cases…they’re also afraid.

It’s not enough that the State pledges that “no one will be abandoned to their fate.”

The workers know that the government will begin eliminating a half million work positions in the state sector and that this cutting will ultimately reach 1.3 million job loses.

Many worry about ending up among those who are unemployed, or —as the media prefer to call it here in Cuba— workers who are “disponibles” (available) or “interruptos” (interrupted).

A large number of them who will find themselves without government jobs will have to enter the emerging private sector, attempting to set up new micro businesses – ones that typically fail within the first year, according to studies conducted by the government itself.

Facts like these are what justify the anguish and uncertainty that weigh on many people.

As for me, added to that concern is another: seeing that this process remains in sharp contradiction with the previous one.

Which one? – you might ask.

I’m speaking of the plan approved in June 2008 that resulted in pushing back the retirement age by five years.

That measure was taken, it was claimed, because the country’s economy was not growing, and also because of the low birthrate.

The first of these arguments took only two years to vanish from attention, with the State now affirming a huge excess of workers in the public sector.

Today, one of two things should take place:  Either the measure to make workers remain on the job five years more to retire should be rescinded or the announced layoffs should be shelved.

The coexistence of these two situations acts only to put a heavier load on older workers who want to retire and younger people who want to find work.

Now is the time to raise this issue in a national discussion with the workers so they can decide which of the two processes will prevail.

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.



One thought on “Observing a Contradiction

  • Daisy I have pointed to the same contradiction you refer here on some prior post here . The people close to retirement should just retire. But I do not believe the intention of the government is to do so. I am sure they also though of it.

    We can see it by the action it has taken. It seems the intention is to build a private sector or should I say to bring the existing private sector in Cuba back to legality. While this is a good step. The way it is lay out it seems very restrictive. Private sector should be able to compete directly with the state on any sphere. The one that it is most efficient and that optimize and produce more should be the one to survive.

    The list of occupations gives a clear view that the government has no interest on direct competition by private enterprises. A field that they most likely lose. But then again the list of possible private jobs gives no room for real and meaningful private enterprises to form.

    Reply

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