Cuba60 Young Workers Tour

Campaign News | Friday, 29 March 2019

Yuniel Espinosa Reyes and Yelena Gomez Gomez, with CSC's Gordon Calliste and Yolanda Ego Figas

Yuniel Espinosa Reyes and Yelena Gomez Gomez, with CSC's Gordon Calliste and Yolanda Ego Figas

The Cuba60 programme of events began with a fantastic Young Cuban Workers Tour of Britain, where two leading Cuban trade unionists, Yuniel Espinosa Reyes (Regional Secretary of the Energy and Mining Trade Union (SNTE), Ciego de Avila) and Yelena Gómez Gómez (official from the Provincial Tourism Trade Union (SNTHT), Matanzas), travelled over 1,500 miles and visited 9 cities for a full programme of activities hosted by British trade unions.

A range of national and regional trade unions hosted the young workers and organised a varied programme which included meetings with young trade unionists and trade union officials, workplace visits, local interest tours, speaking and participating in conferences, events and public meetings.

The tour included visits to Nottingham (GMB Midlands and East Coast Region), Leeds and Wakefield (Unite North East, Yorkshire and Humberside Region), Liverpool (Unite North West Region, PCS North West Women's Network), Manchester (UNISON North West Region), Bristol (Unite South West Region) Glasgow and Edinburgh (UNISON Scotland and Unite Scotland) and London (Unite London and Eastern Region, Unite National, GMB National and the TUC).

Many young members from the hosting trade unions had previously visited Cuba on CSC’s Young Trade Unionists’ May Day brigade and the tour provided opportunities to further strengthen the links and solidarity between British and Cuban workers.

The young workers exchanged their experiences of trade union organising during the tour. “The British trade unionists spoke about the challenges of recruiting young workers into unions and how part of the challenge is explaining what trade unions are for”, Yelena said.

“This is very different to our experience. In Cuba, joining a trade union is something ‘natural’. You are encouraged to join a trade union on your first day of work.”

Yuniel said “The trade unions have a role in every part of Cuban society, in the workplace, in society and in government”, and trade unionists here also spoke of the important roles the unions play outside of the workplace, in our communities and in wider society.

On the role young workers in Cuba, Yelena said: “Cuba has an ageing population, which means that young people now have the responsibility of preserving and ensuring the continued triumph of the Revolution to which so many people in the past have not only given their lives, but also dedicated their thoughts and dreams.

“The Revolution will only move forward and continue to triumph through the efforts of our young people who have been brought up with its values and aspirations. That is our most important commitment: we have the responsibility of keeping the Revolution alive.”

The tour was Yuniel’s first overseas trip and Yelena’s first visit to Britain. “We have really enjoyed our tour here, meeting trade unionists and visiting many different cities. But it’s also made us appreciate our country even more. Sure, we have problems, but they are economic problems. These economic problems are entirely due to the US blockade. It is a big shock and very sad to see the huge levels of homelessness and social problems on the streets in Britain,” Yelena said.

The Cuban guests were hugely grateful for the international solidarity with Cuba that they experienced throughout the tour. “It has been very surprising, the level of support and international solidarity for Cuba so far away from our island. It is great to see the support for Cuba, despite all the right wing media lies about our country”, Yuniel said.

“Going to Cuba is the best way to discover our reality” Yelena added.

Yelena said, “Thanks to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign for giving young workers in Cuba the opportunity to visit Britain and exchange views and experiences with the people here. And thank you to all the trade unions and individuals who have given us a really unforgettable experience – each in their own way and at different times and places.”

Cuba Solidarity Campaign would like say a massive thank you to all the trade unions that hosted the Cuban workers and made the tour possible.


Yuniel and Yelena spoke at the GMB regional committee meeting, where they met Martin Allen, Midlands and East Coast Regional Secretary and were hosted by Sarah Worth, Regional Organiser

Yuniel and Yelena spoke at the GMB regional committee meeting, where they met Martin Allen, Midlands and East Coast Regional Secretary and were hosted by Sarah Worth, Regional Organiser

In Leeds, they visited First Leeds Bus Depo, where they met with officers from the Unite NE 302/36 Leeds Bus Workers branch

In Leeds, they visited First Leeds Bus Depo, where they met with officers from the Unite NE 302/36 Leeds Bus Workers branch

Discussing lifelong learning and trade union education courses with Unite NE 302/36 Leeds Bus Workers

Discussing lifelong learning and trade union education courses with Unite NE 302/36 Leeds Bus Workers

Liverpool Town Hall visit with the Unite North West Young Members Committee

Liverpool Town Hall visit with the Unite North West Young Members Committee

In Liverpool's Casa pub with Unite North West young members

In Liverpool's Casa pub with Unite North West young members

Speaking at the PCS North West Women's Network

Speaking at the PCS North West Women's Network

Fran Heathcote, PCS Deputy President gifted the Cuban trade unionists PCS plates

Fran Heathcote, PCS Deputy President gifted the Cuban trade unionists PCS plates

At UNISON North West region's Skills for Strength Conference: Meeting Roger McKenzie, UNISON AGS and Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Women's and Equalities Secretary

At UNISON North West region's Skills for Strength Conference: Meeting Roger McKenzie, UNISON AGS and Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Women's and Equalities Secretary

Yelena Gomez and Yuniel Espinosa with Tracy Delany, UNISON North West Region International Committee Secretary

Yelena Gomez and Yuniel Espinosa with Tracy Delany, UNISON North West Region International Committee Secretary

Yelena Gomez and Yuniel Espinosa at Tony Benn House, Unite South West's regional office

Yelena Gomez and Yuniel Espinosa at Tony Benn House, Unite South West's regional office

GKN Aerospace workplace visit with Unite South West region

GKN Aerospace workplace visit with Unite South West region

Steve Preddy, Unite South West Regional Secretary speaks at the reception in Bristol

Steve Preddy, Unite South West Regional Secretary speaks at the reception in Bristol

Yelena and Yuniel with Unite Scotland Young Members Committee chair Erin McAuley at Glasgow's City Chambers

Yelena and Yuniel with Unite Scotland Young Members Committee chair Erin McAuley at Glasgow's City Chambers

Yelena and Yuniel with Unite Scotland officials and members

Yelena and Yuniel with Unite Scotland officials and members

The young workers met with Neil Findlay MSP in the Scottish Parliament

The young workers met with Neil Findlay MSP in the Scottish Parliament

The Cuban trade unionists with Elaine Smith MSP and Kath Cambell, Scottish CSC

The Cuban trade unionists with Elaine Smith MSP and Kath Cambell, Scottish CSC

A workplace visit with UNISON Scotland at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital

A workplace visit with UNISON Scotland at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Yuniel and Yelena at GMB's National Office in London, with young members and officials

Yuniel and Yelena at GMB's National Office in London, with young members and officials

Public meeting with Unite Young Members Committee, with Mercedes Sanchez, Regional Officer and Marcus Barnett, Young Labour International Officer

Public meeting with Unite Young Members Committee, with Mercedes Sanchez, Regional Officer and Marcus Barnett, Young Labour International Officer

Yelena Gomez and Yuniel Espinosa at Tony Benn House, Unite South West's regional office speaking at the TUC Young Workers Conference, Congress House, London

Yelena Gomez and Yuniel Espinosa at Tony Benn House, Unite South West's regional office speaking at the TUC Young Workers Conference, Congress House, London

Cuban young workers and Unite young members at the TUC Young Workers Conference

Cuban young workers and Unite young members at the TUC Young Workers Conference

The RMT delegates at the TUC Young Workers Conference meet with Yelena and Yuniel

The RMT delegates at the TUC Young Workers Conference meet with Yelena and Yuniel

The Cubans with STUC Youth Committee and UNISON Scotland young members

The Cubans with STUC Youth Committee and UNISON Scotland young members

At the MShed museum with Unite South West young members officer, chair and vice chair of young members committee

At the MShed museum with Unite South West young members officer, chair and vice chair of young members committee


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