Monday, March 3, 2014

1339. Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC) Congress Held in Havana

By Cuba Central, February 28, 2014

Cuba's Workers Central Union (CTC), the country's largest labor union, held its annual meeting last week, which was attended by 1,200 delegates from 17 different national union branches, reports ACN. Topics on the agenda included a discussion of economic reforms, achieving greater efficiency in the state sector, the implementation of new payment systems, the improvement of labor conditions, and annual production schedules.

At the meeting, the CTC released a report indicating that since 2009 the state sector has shrunk by 596,500 jobs, or more than 10%, reports Reuters. Cuba's government plans to eliminate nearly one million jobs, or 20% of the state labor force, by 2016. The private sector has doubled since 2009, and now represents over 450,000 small business owners and workers.  

The report indicates that the involvement of private sector workers in the union has led to non-state sector reforms that include giving tax exemptions for businesses with up to five employees, permission for artists to contract private labor, and approval of the sale of products and services by the self-employed to the state. More than 122,000 private sector workers remain unaffiliated with the CTC.

President Raúl Castro also spoke at the meeting and called, as he has in the past, for increased productivity in the state sector, reports Miami Herald. He stated:

"It would be irresponsible and counterproductive to order a generalized salary increase in the state sector, because it would only cause an inflationary spiral unless it is fully backed by a matching increase in the goods and services on offer. ...Let's keep in mind the essential principle that in order to distribute wealth, it must first be created."

Castro said that health workers will receive a raise, acknowledging the importance of the work that Cuban doctors do overseas, reports El Tiempo. The work of Cuban doctors abroad is a significant generator of hard currency for Cuba.

President Castro also announced that he will submit a draft of a new foreign investment law to the National Assembly's special session in March, despite reports earlier this month that a decision about the foreign investment law's adoption would be postponed until April.

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