Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yoani Sanchez: Cuba’s State Run Economy Plans to Lay Off 1 in 4 Workers


In a seemingly never ending cycle there are frequent announcements of remedies that will invigorate our economy. This time it is called, “Ending the inflated payrolls,” although from the perspective of those who will be left without jobs it can be summarized in one word: unemployment. Lengthy reports on TV show that the problem of inefficiency is caused by the excess of personnel in offices, factories and even hospitals. Each workday must contain enough work to avoid idleness, they tell us on the news, as if such an elemental formula had just been discovered in the last couple of weeks.

Some economists warn that sending home all the excess workers could make the unemployment figures soar to more than 25%. One in four workers would be laid off in order to clean up the bloated payrolls, as the country has no liquidity to keep on paying idle hands. Such a high number of unemployed would imply an increase in social unrest, hundreds of thousands of people released to take up illegal occupations, and finally the trick of creating underemployment as a way of adulterating the employment statistics. I would like to investigate what will happen in those government departments, swarming with bureaucrats, or what will happen with the engorged list of those who work for State Security. Will they also be downsizing? Seeing the growing number of plainclothes police who roam the streets, I think they should start with them to eliminate so much excess. For reasons of image, those left outside will not be called unemployed but rather something subtle – as already happens at other times – such as “surplus” or “idled.”

A few days after the May Day celebration, many Cubans are at risk of losing their jobs. However, I am sure that we will not see, in the parade from the Plaza, a single sign displaying discontent or criticism about the layoffs. The president of the Cuban Confederation of Workers himself said that the gathering of the workers will be to reaffirm their support for the process and to criticize the so-called media campaign against Cuba. The only legal labor union in the country shows its status as a transmitter of directions from the powers-that-be to the workers, but it does not carry demands in the other direction. We will see them pass in front of the podium, on the point of losing their jobs, but carrying banners repudiating the European Union or the United States. No one will be able to make this day one of real complaint, a meeting to demand from the great patron called The State that it not leave them in the street.

Yoani’s blog, Generation Y, can be read here in English translation.  

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Yoani Sanchez: Cuba’s State Run Economy Plans to Lay Off 1 in 4 Workers

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Yoani Sanchez: Cuba's State Run Economy Plans to Lay Off 1 in 4 Workers

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