Por Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – I’m normally a good guy, a friendly person, but I can turn hostile when somebody gets on my nerves. I have never got on with pseudo-union members because their hypocrisy mixed with arrogance really ticks me off.
I understood a while back that as soon as you begin to defend your rights, you not only run into problems with those in power, but also with a certain kind of person who lives their life believing that we are all robots like them, that we lack free will.
Working at a state-led company, somebody said to me this morning: “You owe me your union dues, when are you thinking of paying me?”
I looked at him for a few seconds, in silence, and replied: “I don’t owe anybody anything.”
He looked at me as if I were speaking Dutch. It seems that his brain short-circuited, stopping him from processing the response. He turned his body around and left.
I have always been one of those “troublemakers”, I know I have. Those people who extort Cuban workers get called on the carpet at meetings if union quota payments aren’t met.
If you don’t pay up…
So, they look at people like as enemies. They are so stuck in their role of playing the useful fool, they don’t understand the reality of the situation. What’s more, they just don’t care. They might even be good people, who accepted this position because they didn’t have the courage to turn it down. But this doesn’t excuse them from being complicit in social control.
For this is what a “union” does here in Cuba. It controls workers and it functions as a decision-making tool for those in power.
All of these unions fall under the CTC (Workers Central Union of Cuba), an organization that was founded in 1939, but dissolved in 1959 to create this “revolutionary CTC”, after which every true trade union organization was suppressed. The CTC was the only one with a legal right to exist in the country.
In fact, right now, many independent trade unionists are suffering police harassment and/or prison.
Today, Cuban workers don’t even have the right to protest. I remember back when I was a university student, that a famous Cuban labor leader said that when Cuba was asked about this at the International Labour Organization (ILO), it said that the right to strike wasn’t viable and completely absurd for workers, as it went against their interests because they were the owners of the factories and means of production.
That was just too much shamelessness! However, sometimes I think that the ILO’s leaders were even more shameless for letting the CTC form part of this great international organization.
It’s all right there in the statutes
In order to give you a real idea about the function of these fake unions, you just need to take a peek at its statutes when it says that “The CTC and national unions that form part of it, openly and consciously recognize the Cuban Communist Party’s leadership, as a model of the avant-garde and maxim of working-class organization, take this on, makes it its own and follow their politics.”
It does this job very well, supporting every decision that the Party makes. This is why it stood up in favor of the government in 2011, when it decided to cut thousands of Cuban workers from its payroll.
They have no autonomy whatsoever.
Of course, the CTC’s leadership (who aren’t elected by a direct vote) is made up of the highest-ranking leaders of the Communist Party, the only legal political party in the country (it goes without saying).
Well, anyway, leaders at different levels on the ground don’t seem to be aware of this.
Just so we’re clear. A Cuban worker only has three rights: to be a member of this organization, do as they are told and pay their union quota.
I have to admit, while I don’t pay every month, I do pay some. Maybe out of cowardice, maybe in order to survive. You can’t imagine how hard it can be for an individual to live with a certain amount of self-determination under a totalitarian regime.
You give into the blackmail in the end.
I’d like to think that I give in sometimes in order to survive.