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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/10/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Analysts say changes related to the workforce 'should go slow'

The slow pace of implementation of economic reform under Raúl Castro's Cuba is far too slow for many. The new policies are a topic of debate and criticism even among its supporters, who say it must move forward more rapidly.

Self-employed workers, who numbered more than 370,000 as of February, and about 80 percent of whom are union members, participated as part of that emerging sector for the first time this year in the parades held on May 1, International Workers Day. It is anticipated that their numbers will reach 600,000 this year.

Self-employed workers, who numbered more than 370,000 as of February, and about 80 percent of whom are union members, participated as part of that emerging sector for the first time this year in the parades held on May 1, International Workers Day. It is anticipated that their numbers will reach 600,000 this year.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/10/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: Raul Castro, Cuba, economic reforms, laborers


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It has been a full year after the Raúl Castro government approved a program of changes and measures aimed at making the Cuban economic model sustainable.
 
In April 2011, the Sixth Congress of the ruling Communist Party officially approved the "Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution," with more than 300 short, medium and long-term policy goals. Many are still waiting to be put into action.

"The changes should be sped up in some economic sectors," economist Pável Vidal told IPS. "The best candidates for obtaining immediate significant results" through the new policies appear to be non-state forms of organizing small-scale production, he said.

"Unlike large companies, small and medium-sized enterprises, together with cooperatives and agricultural producers, comprise a group that has a lot of flexibility and less inertia, no bureaucracy that is resisting changes, and a large capacity for adapting to a new framework of incentives," Vidal said.

Cuban authorities are prioritizing cooperatives, although new legislation announced for that sector is still being studied. "One of the aspects that apparently is being discussed is the scope or degree of autonomy that this type of association should have," said a source who asked to remain anonymous.

University professor Reina Fleitas said that changes related to Cuban labor "should go slow," to have as little of a negative impact as possible, especially in the case of women, "who, despite all of the progress, continue to be the most disadvantaged in terms of employment and wages."

The government relaxed a planned reorganization of the labor force that was to involve the eventual elimination of up to one million state jobs. Some of the workers who were laid off accepted production-related jobs in the same state enterprise or opted to become self-employed or private sector workers.

This year, an anticipated 170,000 jobs that are considered superfluous or unproductive will be cut.

"It is essential to reduce payrolls, to be able to achieve efficiency and analyze deadweight and capacity to meet the plan and implement the budget, adjusting to what is available," Salvador Valdés, secretary general of Cuba's labor federation said.

Self-employed workers, who numbered more than 370,000 as of February, and about 80 percent of whom are union members, participated as part of that emerging sector for the first time this year in the parades held on May 1, International Workers Day. It is anticipated that their numbers will reach 600,000 this year.

That growth should be favored by a gradual transition this year of state workers to private enterprise, in trades such as carpenters, photographers, and repairers of everything from jewelry, mattresses and other household items to electric and electronic equipment.

A version of this story was first published by Inter Press Service news agency.

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