Write us!

January 2002 • Vol 2, No. 1 •

Books in Brief:

Workers in Cuba,
Unions & Labor Relations

By Debra Evenson, 92 pp. Plus bibliography
The NLG/ Maurice and Jane Sugar Law Center, Detroit, 2001
Release by the Jane Sugar Law Center

DETROIT (Nov. 19, 2001) —In the changing post-Soviet economy, labor unions in Cuba are rapidly strengthening their role and sphere of influence, as documented in the first comprehensive study to be released on unions and labor-management relations in contemporary Cuba.

According to the provocative new report, “Workers in Cuba, Unions & Labor Relations,” released today by the NLG/Maurice and Jane Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, reforms and decentralization of the Cuban economy since 1990 have obligated the unions to shed their passivity and take on new initiatives in labor-management relations.

Based on a broad survey of Cuban law and literature and first-hand observations of the labor-relations process on the shop floor and at workers’ meetings during the 12-months ending in May 2001, the study examines labor policy and workers’ rights and participation within the framework of the Cuban socialist system.

“The Cuban Workers Central (CTC), the Party and the government are not synonymous,” writes study author Debra Evenson, an attorney and president of the Latin American Institute for Alternative Legal Services. “The fact that the CTC and the unions both recognize the political guidance of the Party and implement government policies should not be interpreted to mean that they only function to rubber stamp decisions or are merely passive recipients of directives.”

In many cases the study found that the CTC has had significant, and at times decisive, influence on the content of legislation. For example:

“In 1995,” Evenson writes, “the CTC opposed a provision in the initial draft of the new Foreign Investment Law that permitted direct hiring of workers; the CTC insisted on maintaining a system of contracting workers through state employment entities.

“The CTC asked for and obtained a delay in the implementation of the 1994 tax law that would have levied a tax on workers’ wages to fund social security. The law, in fact, requires workers to contribute 5 percent of their salaries to the fund, but the CTC argued that salaries were still too low to bear this cost and recommended postponing implementation until wages had risen enough to make the contribution affordable.

“Proposed legislation altering the social security system has been returned to the drawing boards over objections raised by the CTC.”

Lance Compa, senior lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, praised the study as “a thorough account of labor law and labor relations in Cuba and of the advances and retreats of the Cuban labor movement.”

“Dealing with a country and issues so quick to arouse prejudice, Evenson’s straightforward treatment provides a valuable resource for labor-law and labor-policy scholars and practitioners. It should become a standard reference in the field,” Compa said.

The study covers the key topics concerning labor rights and union relations in Cuba today, including:

  • · Trade Unions in Cuba
  • · Employment and Hiring Policies
  • · Salary and Other Remuneration
  • · Collective Bargaining
  • · Grievance Procedures
  • · Social Security and Benefits
  • · Foreign Investment

Debra Evenson, a recognized authority on Cuba, is also the author of “Revolution in the Balance: Law and Society in Contemporary Cuba,” published by Westview Press in 1994.

“Workers in Cuba, Unions and Labor Relations,” a 92-page spiral-bound report plus bibliography, is available for $10 (for individuals), or $20 (for institutions) plus $4.50 postage and handling. To order single copies or for information on bulk rates write to The NLG/Maurice and Jane Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice, 733 St. Antoine, 3rd Floor, Detroit, MI 48226, USA or by email to mail@sugarlaw.org.





Write us!