The provincial session of the Second Conference of the National Union of Construction Workers (SNTC) discussed efficiency, quality, labour fluctuations, to be used in the business system and other obstacles to the investment process in Matanzas.
In this sort of congress, which brings to an end a process that began in the working collectives, then extended to the municipal structure until reaching this stage, the essential point was the strengthening of the
mass organisations, especially at the lowest level, where trade union work takes place.
To be organic functioning, there must be a trade union, and this is only possible if there is membership in state and private sources and among the retirees, it was also pointed out, among other aspects, the marked exodus of workers from important construction groups in Varadero.
Trade union leaders Armando Roncourt, from the Vladimir I. Lenin contingent, and María Mercedes González, from the Playa Girón, associated labour migration with low incomes. «Anyone earns more than one of our workers, who is also housed,» said Roncourt.
«Varadero is no longer an attractive place. We have lost 15 percent of the workforce and, as if that weren’t enough, out of 232 Maestros de la Construcción we only have 42 left,» lamented González.
Both insisted on the complaints about personal hygiene, one of the oldest grievances pending solution, and food, which has worsened in recent times, a matter that is the responsibility of the Unidad Empresarial de Base de Servicios a la Construcción, known as VARSE.
«We will not solve the problems with our arms folded,» warned Osmar Ramirez, secretary general of the Cuban Workers’ Confederation (CTC). «What is stopping you from asking for land, harvesting it, and managing your own food?» he asked. «It is in your hands to create self-consumption and to maintain it with a change of labour,» he insisted.
«That practice pays very good dividends for us. Thanks to the director, we have a piece of land, tended by ourselves, and today, thanks to this initiative, our food supply has improved,» added Leonardo Vidal, secretary of the trade union bureau of the International Economic Association of Varadero.
«It’s a question of leaving pessimism behind and getting our hands on the reserves we have today that are holding back our development,» he said.
With this criteria agreed Jorge Luis Hernández Rodríguez,director of the Architecture and Engineering Project Company (EMPAI). «We have to know how to deal with crises such as the energy crisis, with the difficulties faced by the economy and concentrate on what we have to do. We have to look for markets, go out and manage the work, these are some of the possibilities we have in the 43 measures to improve the business sector. There are many subjectivities that affect us. That is what we have to overcome,» he reflected.
Raquel Rodríguez, director of the Centre for the Development of Standards and Costs of the Ministry of Construction (MICONS), said that it is a question of learning more about what has been approved and applying it well. Generalise good practices, because there is still a lack of knowledge about what has been legislated.
Javier Gómez Pérez and Orbi Bonell, partners in the Habital and Bonell MSMEs, respectively, referred to their social contributions in hospitals, schools, in the construction of housing as part of the subsidy programme and the elimination of dirt floors. Bonell specified that the prices for their construction services correspond to the norms. He clarified that there is no profit in the execution of works for organisations such as Health and Education, which do not generate profits for him because in those cases the prices are the lowest possible. «This is the way we contribute to social causes, to help, and we do it with quality».
Bonell’s words were in response to a delegate who raised the disadvantages between the income of an employee in the new forms of management and that of construction. In this respect, he clarified that the credits
The management of the workforce obtains them: «Where four go to make a house, there cannot be 10, and if the schedule is for a month, it cannot be extended beyond that time. This is an element that has to strengthen the Socialist State Enterprise,» he said.
These contrasts between those who achieve results and those who don’t could change with an effective internal performance of the organisation. «Functioning with quality. That is the best contribution that can be made in Matanzas to the investment process on which the progress of tourism in strategic poles such as Varadero depends so much,» urged Misael Rodríguez Llanes, secretary general of the SNTC.
«To function is to have the executive complete, to work with the collective bargaining agreement, in which there is still a lack of culture, and for the assembly of affiliates to be the transforming stage in each place and to resemble the place where it operates,» said Rodríguez Llanes.
One of the agreements of the Second Conference was to propose a change in the name of the union to Construction and Water Resources Workers. The delegates ratified Yudey Blanco as general secretary of the SNTC provincial union.
Photos: by the author.
Written by Eva Luna Acosta Armiñán.