Cuba: Anti Union Offensive.

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Violent anti-union offensive in Cuba – ICFTU lodges complaint with ILO 16/4/2003

Brussels, 16 April 2003 (ICFTU Online): A ban on independent trade unions, the persecution and arrest of numerous independent trade unionists, denial of the right to strike and the right to collective bargaining, political discrimination when hiring new recruits, and more. These are all examples of ongoing violations of freedom of association in Cuba. It was against this backdrop of heightened repression that the ICFTU lodged a complaint against the Cuban government with the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association (link to complaint).

For the last two years, the government has failed to keep its promises on legislative reform. The country's only authorised trade union confederation, the Confederation of Cuban Workers (CTC), is still totally controlled by the state and the communist party. The few independent trade unions that attempt to carry out union activities are forced to operate in an extremely hostile environment. Workers who try to organize are persecuted and risk losing their jobs or even going to jail.
The ICFTU gave details of the Cuban regime's two-year campaign of repression targeting all independent union activity, referred to by the regime as 'counter-revolutionary', and condemned the heightened crackdown of recent months.

In the past month, some 78 opponents of government policy (political activists, journalists and trade unionists) have been arrested and sentenced to long prison terms for 'treason and conspiracy'. They include: Pedro Pablo Alvarez Ramos (CUTC), sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, Ivan Hernandez Carillo (CONIC), tortured and now expecting to be handed a 25-year prison sentence, Carmelo Diaz Fernandez (CUTC), sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, Hector Raul Valle Hernández (CTDC) and Oscar Espinosa Chepe (CUTC), both sentenced to 20 years. Nelson Molinet Espino (CTDC) was also sentenced to 20 years in prison, after being violently assaulted. Against this backdrop of a harder, more repressive line, the three leaders of a group of dissidents who hijacked a ferry in Havana Bay in a foiled attempt to flee the country were executed by firing squad. Their plan failed when the boat ran out of fuel.

The ICFTU also complained to the ILO Director-General about the infiltration of the independent trade union movement by agents of the state security forces. The infiltrators included Aleida de las Mercedes Godines (CONIC) and Alicia Zamora Labrada (Lux Info Press, the trade union press agency). During the trial of trade unionists, the government admitted that it had infiltrated independent trade unions.

The ICFTU represents 158 million workers in 231 affiliated organisations in 150 countries and territories.

For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0245 or +32 477 86 19 03.


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