The World Federation of Trade Unions was founded in Paris on October 3’d I 945, which makes it the oldest international trade union organisation. WFTU holds consultative status with the !LO and played a crucial role in the establishment of Convention 87 (C087 – Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948). There is a permanent representation of the organisation in the United Nations in New York, in FAO in Rome and in UNESCO in Paris.
It is a class-oriented trade union movement fighting against capitali st/imperiali st barbarity, and for a society free of exploitation of humans by humans. Currently, WFTU has 105 million members in 133 countries. It has regional and sub-regional offices in all continents and also sectoral international trade unions (TU!s) in all major sectors of economy.
The World Federation of Trade Unions has visited Cuba for numerous times, and we observed first-hand the labour conditions in Cuba. through our visits and our meetings with various trade unions and workers we were able to analyse the situation, witnessing the implementation of labour code and the role of trade unions in insuring the implementation of the laws.
The Cuban constitution establishes and guarantees the protection of worker’s rights through the Labour Code, the main rights and principles for workers such as equality of work, equal pay, prevention of child labour, the weekly rest as well as annual paid leave days, guaranteed social security and occupational safety and health among many other things.
A Few Examples:
- Article 59: employers are obliged to maintain working conditions for working women in consideration of the work process for maintaining her social function.
- Article 64: The state protects the youth aged between fifteen and sixteen, that were exceptionally authorized to work after finishing their studies of completed their professional or trade education.
- Article 68: youth of fifteen years of age until eighteen cannot be employed at jobs that might expose them to physical and psychological risks. They must not be employed to work at night, underground, at water or heights, nor be employed at jobs where they have to deal with heavy loads. The article also
- protects them from being exposed to hazardous material, low and high temperatures, or any other job that might affect their health or integral development.
- Article 87: determines and regulates the working hours. According to the aforementioned article, the daily working hours are eight hours at least, depending on the production and service demands an extra hour can be added to the daily shift on certain days, provided that the weekly working hours do not exceed forty-four hours.
- Article 88: protects the wages of workers in hazardous conditions. An exception to article 87, workers of hazardous professions would work reduced work hours while collecting full time wages, it applies to workers who are exposed to prolonged hazardous conditions that might affect the state of their health. Also, the equal wage treatment applies to young workers between the ages of 15 – 16 who have been approved for work.
- Article 93: workers have the right for a minimum weekly rest of twenty-four consecutive hours. The weekly rest day is generally Sunday, in jobs that work cannot be interrupted for technical or organizational production conditions, the rest day can be assigned to be any other day of the week.
- Article 101: workers have the right to enjoy 30 days of annual vacation days for every I I months of effective work.
The Cuban Constitution Guarantees the Social Benefits of the Workers:
According to article 8 of the social security law. workers are entitled to three kinds of benefits. Benefits in services, benefits in kind and monetary benefits.
- Service in benefit regarding the health care of workers, including medical, dental, hospital care, physical and occupational rehabilitation among many other benefits.
- The benefits in kind include medication provided during the hospitalization period, pregnancy care, orthopaedic devices and prosthetics.
- The monetary benefits include the retirement pension, subsidy in case of illness or accidents, pensions for total or partial disabilities, pension in case of death of workers, maternity leaves, and social assistance.
Health and safety at the Workplace
The health and safety of workers are guaranteed by the Labour Code. employers must adopt measures to prevent accidents at work, occupational diseases or any other damage that might affect workers health or the work environment by maintaining a safe and a healthy workplace.
In case of workplace accidents trade union organizations are part of the investigative commissions to ensure the credibility of the results.
In case of incapacitation of workers due to a common or work-related illness or accident, that might temporarily incapacitate the worker, the workers are entitled to sickness or accident allowances based on the average salary during the period of incapacity and they are granted as follows:
- Common illness: in case of worker hospitalization at 50% if not 60%.
- Work related illness – accident: in case of worker hospitalization at 70% if not 80%.
Observations and Recommendations
We observed closely the achievements of the Cuban Government, we saw the Cuban model of centrally planned economy and the development that is based on the expanding needs of the Cuban people.
Today the Cuban population is experiencing a particularly difficult situation that affects their well-being, their integrity and their livelihood, affecting access to essential products, services and medicines. After almost six decades of the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba. These measures do not constitute simple actions to intensify the blockade, but new and extreme actions of pressure, harassment and economic piracy, which violate International Law and the freedom of commerce and navigation.
It is remarkable that under the circumstances of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba has produced 5 vaccine candidates to vaccinate its population. It is an illustrative result of the effort of science at the service of the people and the effectiveness of the public function. A robust system of science and technological innovation, allied to the free and quality universal health system, with highly specialized human resources, has made it possible to confront the pandemic and the results that Cuba has obtained throughout the history of the revolution.
Cuba has distinguished itself for its spirit of solidarity and internationalism. The role of Cuba’s international cooperation in the health and biotechnology sector is very important for many countries around the world. For years Cuba has sent medical brigades to various countries, as well as received medical students, and has sent professors to create or strengthen medical schools in poor countries.
ln Cuba, social security and assistance is guaranteed. Huge efforts are being made by the State to guarantee the right to food and decent housing. In Cuba there are no unprotected people or deprived of dignity, there are no children without education, the sick without medical attention or the elderly without social protection.
In Cuba there are no workers, peasants, intellectuals or students whose democratic and social rights are not protected by law. Cuba proudly exhibits a society with high levels of citizen security, without organized crime or drugs as a social problem.
The rights to life, liberty and security of the person are based on the principle of respect for human dignity, and constitute pillars in the actions of the Cuban authorities and in the functioning of the entire society.
Considering the illegal embargo, Cuba has set an example to be followed by all people around the world. An example of internationalist solidarity that has become a tradition among the Cuban people.
The main issue that the Cuban workers suffer from is the illegal embargo implemented by the US with the political cover of its allies. The WFTU throughout its history has stood by the side of Cuban people in their struggle to lift the illegal embargo. The illegal blockade must be lifted immediately so the Cuban people can be able to enjoy their freedom, the Cuban people have the right to decide about their present and future, away from any illegal intervention.
The World Federation Trade Unions demands the immediate termination of the blockade on Cuba, the heroic Cuban people who have been suffering for decades of these policies deserve a chance to live free.
The World Federation of Trade Unions demands the immediate termination of the blockade on Cuba. The main issue that the Cuban people suffer from is the illegal embargo implemented by the United States of America.
The World Federation of Trade Unions fully supports the right of Cuban people to decide for their present and future, away from any foreign intervention.