Jobs in Cuba Amid Global Crisis

According to Juventud Rebelde newspaper, in Cuba workers are not laid off as a result of the wolrd crisis, they are employed in maintenace works and other functions- Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, July 13 (IPS) -The employment market worldwide is on a major downswing. To cite a nearby example, in Mexico on one day alone, more than 20,000 workers were laid off, notes Mario Sanchez, president of the Mexican National Trade, Services and Tourism Chambers Federation.

In Cuba, authorities contend that the situation will be different. Margarita Gonzalez, the Cuban minister of Labor and Social Security, affirmed in mid-June in Geneva that the affects of the world crisis on the island will not be shifted onto the backs of the population and that no one will be fired or left unprotected.

Speaking to the International Conference of Labor, held in that Swiss city, the minister affirmed, “We will share all of the available resources between everyone.  No Cuban will be left to their fate.”

Gonzalez recognized that his country is not exempt from suffering the impacts of the global crisis, which adds to the weight of the half-century US blockade imposed against the island.

“No one can predict the outcome or consequences of the economic and financial crisis that is striking the world,” she said.  “What can be predicted, however, is that these problems will not be solved with speeches, injections of money to the banks that speculated or through meetings of the powerful behind the backs of the United Nations.”

Gonzalez, who was appointed to her post last March, says the countries of the South are – as always – those most suffering from the contradictions and irresponsibility of the capitalist system of production, made worse by the imposition of neo-liberalism and financial speculation.

The latest information from the International Labor Organization (ILO) on world employment tendencies predicted in May that unemployment this year will affect from 210 million to 239 million people, equal to between 6.2 and 7.4 percent of the planet’s economically active population.

Compared to the situation in 2007, the study foresees the number of unemployed to increase in 2009 from 39 to 59 million people.

The ILO points out that most of the job losses, in absolute figures, are taking place in the developing countries.  However, the organization acknowledges that some industrialized countries could see higher rates of unemployment.

On the other hand, the ILO concludes that if job creation in the developing countries and the emerging economies continues to be weak, it is probable that emigration toward the richest countries will increase.

“The crisis cannot be solved with technical or regulatory measures, and less still by strengthening the role of the very financial institutions whose policies contributed to generating this current calamity,” said Minister González in Geneva.

In her opinion, the ILO is obligated to play an important role in the search for solutions by defending the Global Jobs Pact, which is aimed at strengthening the structure of social protection and increasing public investment.

Another reference to the situation in Cuba was made by Alfredo Jam Massó in his presentation titled “Challenges and Perspectives of the Cuban Economy” during the Sixth International Conference of Accounting, Auditing and Finance.

The expert recalled that besides the global crisis the island has also been hit by several major hurricanes and intense drought, forcing adjustments on more than one occasion to its 2009 budget, especially when the price dropped for key exports such as nickel, tobacco and sea products.

In a report on the consequences of the crisis for the country, Juventud Rebelde newspaper recognized that output is declining in diverse state-run enterprises, including those that produce tires, soap, soda and ice cream.  However, the daily notes that “in none of the workplaces where production is paralyzed has anyone been laid off; the labor force is being employed for maintenance work and other functions.”

A Havana Times translation of the original article published in Spanish by IPS.