By Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno
HAVANA TIMES — The strike in the State postal services company staged in Holguin’s municipality of Banes ended with a resounding victory for the workers.
As we explained some time ago, the conflict began when postal workers expressed their disagreement over payment mechanisms they considered unjust.
The complaints by those affected, addressed through the “pertinent channels” had fallen upon deaf ears among their superiors. In response to this, workers began to stop working in masse, affecting the distribution of mail and newspapers in the region.
Last Friday, Cuba’s official newspaper Granma reported on the latest developments in this saga. Engineener Zoraya Bravo Fuentes, vice-president of the Grupo Empresarial Correos de Cuba, informed the newspaper of the latest measures the company had implemented.
A work commission was set up to review the complaints made by the workers and customers affected. The commission concluded that both were right, as the chief cause of their discontent was identified as the change in the payment system.
According to the explanations offered by Bravo, all post offices in the province implemented the needed modifications to the payment system to address the demands of the disobedient personnel. In September, she added, the positive impact of these measures became evident and postal services gradually went back to normal. In addition, disciplinary measures were taken with several regional managers.
I am uncertain as to whether Granma realized the significance of these developments. Nearly everyone knows that to speak of a strike in Cuba is taboo and can prove dangerous to anyone’s professional life. The State apparatus exercises such complete control over the country’s economic, political and social life that it penalizes the exercise of elementary civil rights.
Despite this, these postal workers, quite probably devoid of any philosophical or sophisticated academic background, understood they were being treated unfairly. First, they tried to address their concerns “at the right time and place,” as they were urged to do. As is most often the case, this did not work out for them. Then, they correctly determined the only efficacious way to counter this injustice and put it into practice. They managed to make their situation public and secured the sympathies of the population. And they were victorious.
Actions similar to those undertaken by the postal workers in Banes are seen more and more regularly in all many sectors of the country’s economy. They are highly informal, spontaneous and devoid of any organizational framework. They also face the adversity of the only legal trade union in Cuba, the CTC, an appendix and accomplice of the management, an institution that stands in the way of any significant demands by workers (instead of supporting these).
The victory obtained by these workers demonstrates that resistance to authoritarianism is not senseless, that it can lead to positive results. It is in step with the experiences in other areas where similar concessions have been snatched from the Cuban State, as is the case of the rise in wages in the construction and health sectors, threatened by the same phenomenon of a declining workforce.
Little by little, the Cuban working class awakens and discovers its strength. The message from these postal workers still has many places to reach…and a promising end.