Cuban leaders lay out details for massive layoffs

500,000 state workers to be laid off by March 2011 will raise rabbits, pilot ferries, collect garbage

Topics: Cuba,

Cuba’s communist leaders have already determined what they want soon-to-be-dismissed workers to do after they get their pink slips in massive government layoffs, detailing a plan for them to raise rabbits, paint buildings, make bricks, collect garbage and pilot ferries across Havana’s bay.

The plans, along with a timetable for which government sectors will get the ax first, are laid out in an internal Communist Party document obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. Cuba on Monday announced plans to cut 500,000 state workers by March 2011 and help them get work in the private sector, in the most sweeping reforms instituted since President Raul Castro took over from his brother in 2008.

Many of those to be let go will be urged to form private cooperatives. Others will be pushed into jobs at foreign-run companies and joint ventures. Still more will need to set up their own small business — particularly in the areas of transport and house rental — according to an internal Communist Party document obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

The 26-page document — which is dated Aug. 24 and laid out like a PowerPoint presentation with bullet points and large headlines — explains what to look for when deciding whom to lay off. Those whose pay is not in line with their low productivity and those who lack discipline or are not interested in work will go first. It says that some dismissed workers should be offered alternative jobs within the public sector.

The document hints at higher wages for the best workers, but says, “It is not possible to reform salaries in the current situation.”

The document says workers at the ministries of sugar, public health, tourism and agriculture will be let go first, with layoffs having already begun in July. The last in line for cutbacks include Cuba’s Civil Aviation, and the ministries of foreign relations and social services.



The outline includes a long list of “ideas for cooperatives” including raising animals and growing vegetables, construction jobs, driving a taxi and repairing automobiles — even making sweets and dried fruit.

But it warns that one of the main challenges the country will face is that many of the fledgling businesses won’t get off the ground.

It lists the main problems for newly laid off workers seeking to make it on their own as a lack of experience, insufficient skill level and low initiative.

“Many of them could fail within a year,” the document says.

 

Andrea Rodriguez is a San Francisco writer.

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