Isbel Diaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES – Those responsible for organizing the debate surrounding Cuba’s Draft Labor Bill came up with a means of confusing the workers during the document’s review and discussion.
With a view to securing a greater number of votes in favor of the new legislation, participants in the discussions were asked whether they felt it was necessary to modify the old Labor Code. People voted in the affirmative, even though no debate about the limitations of the current legislation was ever held (and they were merely presented with this new bill).
People didn’t know, for instance, that the old Code envisages the “right to employment”, a right that was eliminated from the new bill without much subtlety.
I managed to figure out the aim of this deceitful procedure after reading the statements that Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento made for Cuba’s Granma newspaper this past October 18.
The Chair of the Organizing Commission of the 20th Cuban Workers’ Federation (CTC) Congress states that 157 people did not approve the Bill, 173 abstained and six unions in the non-State sector decided not to debate it.
My question is: one was supposed to vote for or against the said document?
It is quite telling that, on describing how the debate would be organized, authorities did not tell workers that, at the end, they would be voting to approve or reject the instrument. In fact, there was no talk of any voting whatsoever. Those who made it to the end of the debate process were called upon to “vote in favor of or against changing Cuba’s current labor legislation.”
One needn’t be a rocket scientist to see the maneuver at work here. It makes no sense to debate one instrument and then vote for the elimination of another. It’s easy to see that the government had already decided the old labor code had to be changed, and that the votes would later be presented as a sign of support for the new instrument.
Something similar took place in the debate surrounding the Guidelines of the Cuban Communist Party, but, on that occasion, at least the process was a bit more transparent, for it was known in advance that people’s comments would be classified as “modifications”, “amendments”, “concerns”, “doubts” or “omissions” and that each separate chapter would be voted on separately.
Despite this, the media later said people had approved the Guidelines, when that wasn’t in fact the case.
Now, they are using similar categories for the Labor Bill debate, but they are doing this internally, among analysts, without the participation of the workers.
According to the “union leader” Guillarte (who is actually a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party who was recently given the post), of 171,650 comments, 25 % are proposals for amendments, 20 % for modifications, 27 % are concerns and 11 % are suggestions for omissions.
What if the modifications proposed are of such magnitude or reach that they annul the instrument as such? Will we ever be told what these proposals actually said?
The consultation process for the new Labor Code has come to an end. At the end of the month, the debate on the Founding Document of the CTC Congress should being. I am sure they will do the same thing there: this is Cuba’s contribution to “worker’s democracy”, to the international trade union movement.