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March 2007
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Cuba Campaigns for Work Discipline Laws

Cuba Campaigns for Work Discipline Laws
Monday March 26, 5:28 pm ET
By Andrea Rodriguez, Associated Press Writer
Cuba Launches National Campaign for New Work Discipline Laws

HAVANA (AP) — Senior Cuban officials are analyzing a pair of new labor
laws taking affect next month as the island's official media cranks up a
campaign about the rules aimed at beefing up work productivity.

The official Communist Party Granma on Monday devoted its back page
Monday to the upcoming regulations, which many workers complain are too
strict and impossible to follow. State TV in recent days has aired
messages about the need for the new regulations.

Cabinet Secretary Carlos Lage oversaw a meeting by senior Cuban
officials last Thursday and Friday examining the regulations taking
effect on April 1, Granma newspaper said. Parliament speaker Ricardo
Alarcon also attended, along with numerous government ministers.

Contained in two resolutions known as 187 and 188, the package of new
rules call for workers to arrive at work on time, work their scheduled
hours, and remain at work during their scheduled shifts. Workers are
also explicitly prohibited from taking any kind of personal payment from
third parties for information or any other service.

The regulations also call for government offices to stay open longer so
Cubans can handle necessary government paperwork such as getting a
driver's license or processing housing documents without missing work.

Granma quoted Labor Minister Alfredo Morales as saying that most
workplaces have already adopted some of the new regulations and many are
already open longer hours.

The communist newspaper acknowledged that many workers face additional
problems that will make it hard to comply with the new regulations, such
as unreliable and crowded public transport and limited hours for child care.

Although minimum government salaries were increased significantly in
recent years, the current average monthly pay is around $15.

Most Cubans pay no rent, enjoy free health care and education, and pay
very little for heavily subsidized transportation and utilities and a
basic food basket covering about 40 percent of dietary needs.

But their still-small salaries do not go far, especially since most
other things they need to buy are available only at high prices in
foreign currency stores.

Cuban worker productivity plunged during the island's economic crisis in
the 1990s, brought on by the loss of its former Soviet partners.

Now, Cuban workers "will have to change their life habits," party
official Lina Pedraza told Granma newspaper.

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