Cuban State Companies Want to Reinstate Worker Vigilance

To strengthen “patriotic values”.

By Daniel Benitez  (Cafe Fuerte)

Ulises Guilarte secretary general of the Cuban Workers Confederation.

HAVANA TIMES —  For many people in Cuba, vigilance at workplaces is a memory from an era loaded with slogans which invoked the Soviet Union, mile-long speeches and where mobilizations to cut sugar cane, voluntary work Sundays and defense marked the country’s progression.

However, this outmoded factor in Cuban workers’ lives could return very soon as an antidote to the fight against theft and illegal activities. It could be seen as “the perfect solution to creating awareness and strengthening the feeling of belonging and ethical and patriotic values.”

A recent article published in the government’s labor newspaper Trabajadores questioned the fact that employees weren’t in charge of looking after and guarding their companies, that this job had been outsourced to bodies who are specialized in these tasks and who, far from increasing security, seem to open up the way to crime.

Not infallible, not incorruptible

The Cuban Workers Confederation’s article regrets to say “be careful with goods and resources in the hands of agents who don’t play an active role in the working group, who, while it’s true that they have professional training in this regard, are not always infallible or incorruptible.

However, the truth of the matter is that current policy has moved far away from the activist attitudes of the past. Today, there are very few workplaces which continue to have routine surveillance rounds among its employees, firstly, because of just how unpopular they are, and secondly, because companies have allocated resources to hire protection agencies.

However, the author of this article implies that these protection agencies tend to be ineffective sometimes because of the poor quality of their services.

The report recognizes the fact that, sometimes, many employees served as guards for hours at places where they didn’t even have the basic minimum conditions.

Preventing crime

Even though the upper echelons haven’t officially announced that this control system will be reestablished, the chances that the worker vigilance will return could be a viable initiative at a time when the government is trying to strengthen the exhausted control mechanisms and ideological reaffirmation at work places.

The article reminds us that at the 20th CTC Congress, in February 2014, two objectives were approved with regard to this issue, where workplaces were seen as “the main stage of preventing and tackling crime, corruption, illegal activities, drugs and social indiscipline.”

One of the agreements that came from this aforementioned trade union congress was “to favor the organization and effective implementation of the workers vigilance at workplaces, as a compliment to security systems and physical protection, and to update their internal regulations.”

The journalist says that many people tell him the subject is being considered at many workplaces. “We will analyze the idea” to see whether we need to adopt measures which benefit the care and control of assets and resources and cut down costs at these companies.

2 thoughts on “Cuban State Companies Want to Reinstate Worker Vigilance

  • When the Las Vegas cabaret nightclub was a straight bar, I would spend most afternoons playing chess on the front patio with the bartender, Alexis. He is a medical doctor who switched to being a bartender because he could make 5 times as much money. Anyway, I used to buy 5lbs of chicken for 5cuc from the chef who worked inside the bar kitchen every 2 weeks or so. The chef gave the cabaret jefe and the cabaret accountant 1cuc each and he kept 3 for himself. I know that he did the same thing with 9 other buyers every week. He was making 30 cuc a week selling frozen chicken from 1 of the 5 (50#) boxes the cabaret received each week. For the month, he made 120 cuc and the jefe and contadora each made 40cuc. Their monthly government salaries were between 25 and 30 cuc. So they each made more selling frozen chicken out the back door than the did doing their job. My buddy Alexis, the barman, sold a 3 cuc mojito and pocketed 2 cuc. He would buy his own bottle of rum and use the sugar, lime, mineral water and hierba buena that belonged to the bar. I saw with my own eyes the sale of as many as 20 mojitos on good days. His mojito business easily earned 200 cuc a month for him. His salary from the Castros? 24cuc in moneda nacional (cup). By the way, previously as an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, he never made more than 50 cuc. So, what’s the point? The dictatorship can implement whatever “employee vigilance” program they like. It will never work. Resolving, or workplace theft, is ingrained in the Cuban culture and will remain so until Cuban salaries rise significantly.

  • It will not work. Only self interest will change behavior. The value of employment would need to outweigh the value of theft that has become a means of survival. Virtually all state employees engage in some form of theft to supplement the meager wages. Real wages and consequences that would change behavior needs to be adopted. Utopian models of the new man failed. Adopt or perish are the regime’s choices.

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