HAVANA, Cuba. – “When I was sanctioned, no one contacted the union; they would have had to get involved,” states Ignacio H. Hernández González, a former employee of Empresa Extrahotelera Palmares S.A. a non-hotel services company.
According to Hernández González, he was a gastronomical clerk at a DiTú in the Guanabo area, in the municipality of Habana del Este. He stated that he was dismissed “unjustly” without any proof of the labor violation he was accused of.
“Allegedly, it was due to a client’s complaint about my charging him an incorrect amount for a product. All products had their price written in the front. I was sanctioned with definitive dismissal from the establishment; I did not get to meet the client, without meeting with them, without the union being notified or anyone else,” stated Hernández González.
“My lawyer and I filed a claim with the labor justice office; my lawyer pointed out all the violations that had been committed against me. They did nothing, in fact, they even lied throughout the process.”
According to our source, the union at each Cuban company has always sided with company directors instead of with workers. He states unequivocally that workers are “helpless” and have “no labor rights.”
Tourism sector workers claim their labor rights are violated
“The union has always followed the administration’s instructions, it has never been an worker’s advocate anywhere I have worked, it has never assumed the defense of workers; neither is it informed about working conditions. However, no sooner has the year started, you have to pay (the monthly fee) as required,” Hernández González added.
Hernández González worked as a geography teacher for 17 years, until he decided to look for work in the tourism industry in the hope of a better salary.
“I got tired, and I decided to go to the tourism sector thinking I had an opportunity to do better than in teaching. I thought I could earn a higher salary.”
In order to get a job in the tourism sector, one of the employment fields most sought-after by Cuban workers, he had to get training.
“I graduated from the School of Gastronomy at the old [American club] in Havana, and got an English language certificate with the knowledge of the language that I already had,” he explained.
In spite of all that, the results were not what he expected.
“I got paid a low salary; it was the tips the clients left that made the income somewhat more acceptable. But the salary was always low, it wasn’t enough money for anything, and now it’s even worst in spite of the monetary reorganization.”
Editor’s Note: This report was completed in collaboration with the International Republican Institute (IRI)
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