As part of his regular review of some 20 high-impact programs, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez led an analysis of the employment situation in the country and the status of several investment projects underway in different provinces.
According to a report presented by Margarita González Fernández, minister of Labor and Social Security, currently gainfully employed in Cuba are 4,474,800 persons. Of these, a bit more than three million work in the state sector, while some 1.3 million are active in the non-state sector (self-employed, cooperative members, etc.)
She explained that as a result of the rationalizing process underway since 2009, inflated workplace rosters have been reduced, within both budgeted entities and state enterprises, while employment in the private sector has increased.
In terms of priorities in access to jobs, she noted recent graduates from universities, technical-professional high schools, trade schools, and active military service programs, as well as individuals on prison work-release, the disabled, and unemployed.
The minister also discussed instability in the workforce in certain areas, above all in the medical, educational, technical, and economic fields. Among factors causing workers to leave these positions, she identified low salaries and long distances to workplaces, as well as personal interests.
First Vice President Salvador Valdés Mesa addressed the level of underemployment persisting in the country, and commented that many people are conducting economic activities without authorization, and therefore not paying taxes.
He argued for efforts to make employment opportunities more attractive, especially as part of municipal development programs, citing the example of mechanization in agriculture that has humanized work in the fields.
President Díaz-Canel emphasized the importance of implementing Guideline 143, approved at the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, to promote the incorporation into the workforce of everyone able to do so, especially youth, so they can contribute to society and satisfy their needs in a meaningful way.
He insisted that central state administration bodies must ensure that their subordinated entities are paying attention to recent graduates, so that after completing their year of social service, these young workers remain in the position. If we want them to stay, he said, they must feel part of things, their opinions must be heeded, and they must be involved in decision-making.
He noted that entities must do a better job of managing human resources, not simply relying on customary assignments of graduates, but rather make an effort to attract personnel. Alternatives must be found and strategies designed to find the specialists and workers needed, he said.
Díaz-Canel also highlighted the importance of defending the Labor Code, the legal framework approved in June of 2014, which is on occasion violated in the private sector, where vacations are denied, and specific physical features required for employment in certain positions. This must be detected and stopped, he said, adding that this is not why we made the Revolution.
The President’s working meeting also included a review of several investment projects underway in the country, which will have a significant impact on the economy.
On this occasion, those making accountability reports included the steelworks Antillana de Acero in Havana and Acinox in Las Tunas; the Sosa chlorine plant in Sagua la Grande; as well as the fuel storage capacity-building program.
The director of Antillana de Acero, Miguel Ángel Solarana Reyes, indicated that the investment project at the steelworks is conceived in two phases, the first of which involves recuperating a capacity of 250,000 tons of molten steel a year. The second stage should make possible stable production of 420,000 tons of molten steel annually and 350,000 tons of plates.
Solarana referred to the need to stabilize the workforce to maintain current production levels and those projected for the future, specifically young university graduates.
The report on investments at the steelworks was well-received, and Comptroller General Gladys Berejano noted that the state company’s bookkeeping was evaluated as satisfactory during a recent audit.
It was reported that Acinox in Las Tunas is working on an investment project to replace outdated technology on the 200 T rolling mill, with the goal of expanding annual capacity to 150,000 tons of corrugated rods and 20,000 of steel wire.
The company’s director, Eraldo González Ávila, stated that despite delays in assuring financing, the process is going well, and the Comptroller General’s audit found everything in acceptable order. At this time, work is underway to repair bays where the new rolling mill and wire area will be installed.
Díaz-Canel emphasized the importance of this project to the broad construction effort underway in Cuba, and to expanding exports.
The investment process at the Sosa chlorine plant in Sagua la Grande was described as one that has not had positive results. The lack of financing; delays in the delivery of domestically produced and imported materials; logistical shortcomings; and a shortage of qualified workers have kept the project from advancing on schedule.
Also analyzed during the meeting were investments being made to expand storage capacity for fuel, including construction of new tanks, maintenance of existing ones, and the recuperation of those that are out of service. The President described this effort as strategic to the development and sovereignty of the country.