Preparations underway for the 2019 Cuban trade union congress

Granma | Wednesday, 14 February 2018 | Click here for original article

Preparations for the Cuban Workers’ Federation (CTC) 21st Congress will characterise union activities this 2018, which entails an assembly process of all collectives to collect opinions, demands, and guidelines to be evaluated at the national event, stated CTC Secretary General Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, a member of the Communist Party of Cuba Political Bureau, during a press conference.

The call for the 21st Congress was announced January 28, coinciding with the 79th anniversary of the founding of the CTC and the 165th anniversary of the birth of Cuban National Hero José Martí.

Over the next 12 months, grassroots union sections will undertake an organic discussion process, make agreements, design new strategies and elect their leaders, in the lead up to the Congress scheduled to be held January 2019, to mark the CTC’s 80th anniversary.

These workplace meetings will address issues relating to employment, salaries, improvement of working conditions, health and safety, and respect for labour rights, taking into account the role of unions in guaranteeing justice in the workplace and transparency in the labour reorganisation process underway in Cuba.

Debates on changes to be made in the trade union movement and the will to transform the methods and work style applied by the organisation will also feature.

In addition, Guilarte de Nacimiento noted that the Congress will mark the search for better leadership and greater recognition of the work of the union within labour collectives.

“Our Congress will take a deep, analytical, wide-ranging look at the economic issue, the main battle waged in the country to reach higher rates of growth of the Gross Domestic Product,” stated Guilarte de Nacimiento.

These topics will also be discussed by participants in the national conferences of the unions of Culture, Tourism, Civil Defence, and Sugar industry workers, which will also meet in 2018.

All these union events will focus their debates on drawing up strategies within a labour scenario marked by the reorganisation of employment, which has been growing in the non-state sector, in which 29% of the country’s economically active population now works.

“Today we have a qualitative change in the composition of our labour landscape, as guidelines have been established in the regulatory framework. Right now the legal norms of non-state work are being perfected and the improvement of the business system, referring to socialist state enterprises, has just been published in the Official Gazette of the Republic,” the CTC secretary general explained.

He also noted that the financial and material tensions experienced will persist, therefore reserves of untapped efficiency must be exploited, especially as regards savings, import substitution, and the production of exportable goods.

He insisted on the need to avoid wasteful use of fuel, electricity, water, and gas, and highlighted the unity, discipline, and solidarity shown by workers during the recovery process following the serious damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

“Through our own efforts we were able to rebuild the tourist infrastructure of the country, mainly in the northern keys, in only 62 days. In just another 20 days the power grids were ready for the generation and supply of energy. Under the leadership of Provincial and Municipal Defense Councils, communications and electricity workers, builders, and food industry workers were mobilised, who worked uninterruptedly and ensured basic services,” Guilarte de Nacimiento stressed.

In this regard, he noted that unions selected some 500 labour collectives and about 2,500 individual workers to receive awards in recognition of their efforts. In January 2019, individuals will be decorated as Heroes of Labour of the Republic of Cuba, and receive the Lázaro Peña Order in the first, second and third grades, medals, and diplomas. Meanwhile, outstanding collectives will receive the Labour Feat flag, distinctions, and certificates.

The union leader sent a message of congratulations to all. “On this new anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution, on the road to achieving 60 years of socialist victories, we send our regards, affection and appreciation, for having shown class consciousness and monolithic unity around the project we have decided to build. We wish them the greatest prosperity, health, and all our gratitude to their compañeros and relatives.”

The CTC secretary general also sent greetings to friends around the world and noted that the current international context is characterised by a divided trade union movement, under attack with the direct impact of neoliberal policies, in which underemployment, discriminatory policies against immigrants, young people and women predominate. Added to this is the loss of social gains and labour rights.

Today, trade union organisations are on the offensive, promoting integration among left forces. “We appeal for the involvement of social interlocutors such as the landless movements, ecologists, feminists, and youth and student movements, who in their mobilising practice have reflected a standard of unity and integration, to confront this neoliberal offensive,” the Cuban union leader stressed.

“From Cuba and as part of our administration as a vice president of the World Federation of Trade Unions, we advocate for global spaces within organisations such as the International Labour Organisation, forums, congresses, and events, to ensure the real mobilisation of workers. We need a unified platform for action within the international trade union movement to confront imperialist policies,” he concluded.

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