New Sight for Cubans: Blizzard of Pink Slips
Published: October 7, 2010
HAVANA (Reuters) — Cubans faced a harsh new reality this week — dismissal slips — as the government began paring state payrolls in a cost-cutting move that has created job insecurity for the first time in years in the Communist country.
Workers were being laid off in countless industries, from hospitals to hotels, and in the biggest action to be made public so far, employees at a state-owned enterprise, the Special Protection Services Company, were told that the company would be shut down and 23,000 people let go.
It was the beginning of President Raúl Castro’s plan to cut 10 percent of the government’s work force, or about 500,000 people, by April in the most significant overhaul attempted since he succeeded his older brother, Fidel Castro, in 2008.
The layoffs, intended to improve efficiency and reduce Cuba’s budget deficits, are the first major job cuts since the 1960s. About 85 percent of the Cuban labor force works for the state, or more than five million people, many of them in unproductive jobs. The country’s population is about 11 million.