‘Cuba’s labour leaders have little knowledge of their rights’

July 29th, 2008 - 1:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Havana, July 29 (IANS) More than 60 percent of Cuba’s trade union leaders have little knowledge of laws protecting workers’ rights, the communist-ruled island’s only legal union CTC has said. Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC)’s official journal Trabajadores said of more than 930 labour leaders it surveyed, barely 40 percent said they have some knowledge of workers’ rights or mechanism for redressal of grievances, EFE news agency reported Tuesday.

Results of the survey, which was conducted in September 2007 by the Labour and Social Security Ministry and the CTC, indicate that collective bargaining does not play a role in management-worker relations.

Among the workers, awareness of labour rights is also dismally poor, the journal said.

Of the 2,620 workers surveyed, some 70 percent said they had no knowledge if an agreement protecting their rights exists.

A large number of respondents among the workers opined that collective bargaining agreements were of “little value” or that “if conflicts happen, only with difficulty could the union or a worker win a dispute with management”.

Alfredo Machado, head of the CTC, blamed “the lack of objectivity and dynamism” in implementing the labour agreements on the “scarce participation” by workers.

He said there was no effective monitoring of union officials, and that the latter lacked “knowledge and training”.

Few workers know that they can take their grievances to higher authorities or that violation of labour laws is a criminal offence and managers may face criminal prosecution for flouting workers’ rights.

Trabajadores concludes that labour laws rarely come in aid of the workers “because labour organisations do not play the role they are supposed to”.

The first article of Cuba’s constitution defines the nation as a “socialist workers’ state, independent and sovereign”.

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