Cuba: Fired Workers Won't be Left Defenseless

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Cuba's government has fired thousands of state workers a part of a plan to reform the Cuban economy to allow for more private enterprise. 

Although some in the island country are optimistic about the changes, there also exists anxiety that the plan will cause unrest in a nation where people are unaccustomed to fending for themselves. 

Digna Martinez, who was once certain she would have a job for life, now says she doesn't know if she will "be working next week." 

"Now I feel like an abandoned orphan," the 51-year-old told the Edmonton Journal.

Still, officials reassured the public they would not be left defenseless amid the communist country's historic economic reboot.

Cuba's leaders say their new plan will help workers that are laid off get jobs in the newly-expanded private sector. The government has begun holding meetings where labor leaders suggest ways on how those fired can make a living, according to the Press Association.

"We are confronting the need to make our economy more efficient, better organize production, increase worker productivity and identify the reserves we have," said Salvador Valdes Mesa, head of the nearly 3 million-member Cuban Workers Confederation.

For those unable to secure new employment immediately, the state will pay severance of 60 percent of their salary for up to three months, depending on their seniority, according to an article in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.
The state currently controls over 90 percent of the Cuban economy.  However, President Raul Castro has tried to reduce some of that control since he came to power in 2006.

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