Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cuba to Cut State Jobs in Tilt Toward Free Market

Wall Street Journal
September 14, 2010

Cuba will lay off more than half a million state workers and try to create hundreds of thousands of private-sector jobs, a dramatic attempt by the hemisphere's only Communist country to shift its nearly bankrupt economy toward a more market-oriented system.

The mass layoffs will take place between now and the end of March, according to a statement issued Monday by the Cuban Workers Federation, the island nation's only official labor union. Workers will be encouraged to find jobs in Cuba's tiny private sector instead.

"Our state can't keep maintaining...bloated payrolls," the union's statement said. More than 85% of Cuba's 5.5 million workers are employed by the state.

Cuba's effort to reorient its labor force represents the country's biggest step toward a freer economy since the early 1990s, when Havana embarked on a brief attempt to make changes in a bid to survive without subsidies after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main benefactor.