Code undergoes popular review

The principal regulating labour law in Cuba is being debated in all the country’s trade union sections to adapt it to the multiple changes in the economy.

Jorge Luis Baños-IPS/

The Draft Labour Code Law tries to respond to the essential changes begun in the Cuban labour environment.

After 28 years under a legal shield worn out especially by the changes that followed the economic crisis of the 1990s, Cuban workers started debating on July 20 a new Draft of the Labour Law Code. The process will last until Oct. 15. The date was announced to the parliamentary committees during the recent session of the National Assembly of People’s Power by the chairman of the Organising Committee of the 20th Congress of the Central Organisation of Cuban Trade Unions (CTC), Ulises Guilarte.


It hasn’t been that long since the approval of the previous juridical text of this type: July 26, 1985. The pressing need for discussion and approval of a new code is somewhat determined by the fact that “the legislation passed in the last two decades has modified or replaced seven of its 14 chapters,” the document undergoing debate recognised.

According to statements to the press by Labour and Social Security Minister Margarita González Fernández, the Code being debated – which when approved will have the status of Law – will make it possible to integrate the legislation by repealing three laws, eight decree laws, four decrees and 77 resolutions.

Millions of workers, members of more than 80,000 trade union sections, will have the opportunity to analyse and make new modifications to an essential legal instrument which submits to discussion fundamental changes about employment, wages, social security and employers, among other subjects.

The popular review of the draft code law seeks to also organise relations that appear in Cuban society, as the fruit of the reform known as the updating of the economic model. Chapter VII, for example, makes an incursion into “labour relations between natural persons,” an area under development given the extension of non-state employees, which in turn is based on the implementation of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines, approved in 2011 at the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party.

The norm being debated recognises the existence of “workers hired by natural persons authorised for this and according to associated forms.” It therefore leaves the door open to private microenterprises, which actually already exist in Cuba. Thus the opportuneness of article 66, which establishes the minimum working conditions employers must guarantee in the relations between naturals: duration of the workday, wage and vacation pay, among others.

It is the guarantee of a protection that is important to establish in the Law, though today it could seem unnecessary because the payment to self-employed or private hired workers is usually higher than in a state entity.

The Draft Code Law focuses on other matters related to work contracts with greater flexibility than the Code in force. It also includes new regulations in relation to the studies or training by workers, the terms to end a labour link, vacation pay, the granting of family leaves and eliminates a group of disciplinary measures for being obsolete, to attempt ways out that are more efficient and closer to the law in the face of labour conflicts.

The Draft Code Law – 182 articles contained in 15 chapters, special, transitory and final regulations – recognises as fundamentals, among others, the Agreements of the International Labour Organisation, “especially the 76 ratified by Cuba” and “the compared study of similar legislations in 16 countries.” These data confirm the Cuban willingness to take from other sources.

Due to the in-depth changes begun in the economy, the debate of the proposed juridical norm promises to be intense. At least Ulises Guilarte expects this. When referring to the prior preparation of the process, he said: “One can see starting now that there will be profound analyses about issues related to the contracting of workers and the handing down of labour justice.”

Reason seems to assist the debates beforehand, if as expected, the most recent evolution of the Cuban economy, on a nationwide scale, of enterprise or family rears its head at the union assemblies. (2013)

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