Students and Work

Daisy Valera

Cuban university students. Photo: Caridad

Today at the institute where I study, there appeared the following message in my e-mail: “Information on job-holding.”  According to the note, university students are now entitled to hold jobs (according to Decree Law No. 268: Modification of the Employment Structure).

What’s new in this law is that students over 17 years of age who are studying at the high school or higher educational level can now work and receive a commensurate wage.  It would also mean that they would begin paying in for their retirement and would be entitled to be hired at their own school (as long as it is not teaching-related employment), and to receive vacations like any other worker.

Unfortunately, the first impression this triggers in students is one of greater freedom and an improvement in their financial possibilities.  This presents itself as an opportunity for helping their families, who up to now —despite receiving wages but well below the real cost of living— have had to help maintain these students during their university or other studies.

Many youth will be motivated to join the workforce due to the critical economic situation of their families, though they haven’t thoroughly considered the fact that concurrent studying and working can negatively impact on their academic performance.

I feel that my society is increasingly assuming more nuances that smack of capitalist society.

Free education and health care, day-care centers, senior citizens’ and maternity homes, the right to abortion, workplace cafeterias and the fact that youth are not compelled to both study and work were gains that the Cuban people won precisely for having carried out a socialist revolution.

We are beginning to allow the last two achievements disappear, which speaks quite clearly to the fact that we are not advancing in the construction of a better society, but moving backwards.

No other option is left to us Cubans than to become conscious of how important it is not to allow the elimination of what has been achieved.

Only by better understanding our reality will we be able to change it for the better for all workers of our country.

2 thoughts on “Students and Work

  • grady says “our movements answer..” what movement? in the u.s.? how many involved in this movement?

  • Unfortunately, Daisy, it seem inevitable that many gains of the Cuban revolution will be eroded and possibly lost, due to factors that were also at work in the Soviet and other transformations.

    History shows that, over time, the original core formula for socialist economy–ownership of all the means of production by the socialist state–is “incentive regressive.” This means that the will of the people to produce efficiently and abundantly is eroded to a paralytic point.

    You say that Cubans must not “allow the elimination of what has been achieved;” and also that “Only by better understanding our reality will we be able to change it for the better for all workers of our country.” This is incisively and goes directly to the point. The “reality” that must be understood is the erroneous nature of that core economic formula, but also how it can be re-formulated.

    Our movement’s answer is “partial state ownership of employee-owned cooperative corporations.”

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