Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Cuban Workers Could Sue Foreign Companies

October 20, 2012

Alfredo Fernandez

HAVANA TIMES — The day that the rule of law is finally established in

Cuba, the workers here will be able to take legal action against foreign

entities operating on the island, or wherever they are, to return to

them what was robbed with impunity: their labor power.

When that time comes, companies, institutions and senior officials

involved in those operations will get their just due.

Many — if not all — of the foreign enterprises that have invested in

Cuba are signatories of covenants of the International Labor

Organization (ILO) that are directed against the exploitation of

workers, which is to say not paying workers degrading wages.

I remember a sailor told me that when he and his fellow Cubans were

going abroad to work together, the rest of the sailors didn't believe

they were "working for their pay in national currency, about $ 50 a

month, along with an additional pay incentive of $50 USD per month." The

incentives could only be collected if these workers met a whole laundry

list of strict requirements.

He also told me that other sailors resented them, because the

international body that represents the industry had, after much effort,

succeeded setting an international minimum wage for sailors at $1,000 a


Similarly, other things have happened in the hotels of joint ventures,

where workers also earn a miserable wage if it's compared to the value

of the services provided in these facilities.

Likewise, this happens in mixed foreign and national companies such as

the Havana Water Department, the Port of Mariel, the national nickel

company and many others.

The truth is that these companies pay their costs per worker in line

with the ILO treaty, but what happens, without exception, is that all of

this money goes first to the Cuban government. This is not to say that

the Cuban workers are exculpated, on the contrary, this makes them


What's more, in due course these companies will be presented with claims

by these workers for the vile violation of agreements they signed before

the ILO. These firms will have to retroactively compensate these Cuban

workers for the money stolen.

This will apply especially to these corporations that violated the first

point of the "ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at

Work," which reads:

As fundamental rights, workers we shall enjoy "freedom of association

and trade union freedom and the effective recognition of the right to

collective bargaining."

Therefore workers who worked at some point in time with these

corporations will have the legal argument that will enable them to file

lawsuits against these corporate thieves of their sweat and for taking

advantage of the "company union" that today "represents" Cuban workers

were able to cheat them.

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