Discussing the New Labor Law
Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — The review and discussion of Cuba’s draft labor bill began in July and will continue until the month of October at all workplaces around the country. Organized by the union sections, these discussions are aimed at gathering the opinions, suggestions, and all items which the workers feel should be added or removed from the document, before it is debated and approved by the National Assembly (Parliament).
This process, yet another demonstration of how Cuban democracy works, is needed because of the changes currently taking place in the country, changes which require revisions to the Labor Law which has been in effect since 1985 (which has since been modified several times).
The foundations of the draft labor bill are the following:
1.- The policies approved for the drafting of the bill, based on the fundamental principles of the right to employment, enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba.
2.- The Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and Revolution, approved at the 6th Party Congress.
3.- The juridical provisions established after the 1985 law came into effect.
4.- International Labor Organization conventions, particularly the 76 ratified by Cuba.
5.- A comparative study of similar legislations in effect in 16 different countries.
Though these are the five elements used to develop the bill, we mustn’t forget it is still only a bill which will be expanded or modified on the basis of the opinions voiced by the workers and, subsequently, the more than 600 deputies who, representing the people who elected them, constitute the Cuban Parliament.
One would be hard pressed to find many countries, among those who call themselves democratic, in which the nation’s central legislation is subjected to nationwide discussions before its approval.
In Cuba, every single piece of important legislation, from the Constitution and its subsequent modifications, through the Family, Childhood and Youth Laws, to the Guidelines approved at every Party Congress (particularly the last Congress) has been subjected to review by the people, and enriched with their opinions and suggestions – a true exercise in democracy, though some insist on denying this.
There are those who think that the only legitimate democratic system is one made up of several political parties, quarreling among themselves to grab power and get rich. We suffered such a system in Cuba for many years, and we won’t be going back to it.
Our democracy is the most authentic in the world. Our politicians do not waste time and energy in political campaigns. They do not spend millions on election campaigns. Parliamentary deputies do not earn any money for their work – they do it altruistically, for the good of the people who elected them.
To those who believe that there is no freedom of expression in Cuba, I say that, quite possibly, there isn’t a country in the world where people have more means to express their opinions than in Cuba. Government leaders themselves urge the people to express their opinions, because they need to know what the people think in order to represent them.
Of course, the kind of press paid for by Cuba’s enemies, or political parties steered and financed by the United States, will never be allowed in the country.
Some are of the opinion that Cuba’s revolutionary government is authoritarian, Stalinist and a whole slew of other things said to discredit the Cuban revolution. All such arguments, however, crash against rock-hard reality sooner or later.
As of 1959, Cuba has not known a one-man government. At the beginning, the country was governed by the Council of Ministers. Since the creation of the People’s Power, the country’s most important decisions are made by the Council of State, where all sectors of society are represented.
This is the farthest thing removed from authoritarianism or dictatorship, as others like to say. The people of Cuba are not politically illiterate or apathetic, and, whenever something bothers them, they say so, because they know their opinions will be taken into consideration.
Cubans are given many opportunities to express their views and concerns, and the current discussions surrounding the draft labor bill is a case in point. The results of this process will prove me right.