Cuban Charcoal Makers in Las Tunas Get a Wage Increase After Protests

The charcoal makers decided to return to work this Tuesday but warned that they are watching to make sure that all the agreements are kept. (Trabajadores)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 January 2021 — The workers of the Integral Agropecuaria de Las Tunas have won the fight with the directors of that state entity after the tensions of the last days. According to the Martí Noticias newsite, the authorities gave in to the demands of the coal workers who had gone on strike due to the low wages they received in January.

According to the president of the Missionary Church of Cuba, Yoel Demetrio, speaking to Martí Noticias, this Monday morning several directors of the Company visited the charcoal makers and presented them with an offer to ease tensions and get them to return to work.

“They showed up right there in the coal shed where they work, which is the place where they were protesting, and they showed up every morning and sat there waiting for a response. They brought the charcoal makers 1,000 pesos on loan with payment plans, a change of clothes, also a pair of shoes, as well as a file and a mocha,” Demetrio explained.

The pastor explains that “they prepared conditions” for them to return to their jobs and they guaranteed that as of next February 10 they would receive “the basic salary” which is 2,100 pesos in national currency. The directors also pointed out that in the case of “overproduction” they would be paid “extra.”

Regarding the payment that is defined as “exports,” the officials reported that at the moment the amount of charcoal that is being sent abroad is low because of the Covid-19 pandemic. After the meeting, the charcoal makers decided to return to work this Tuesday, but warned that they are watching to make sure that all the agreements are kept, according to the apostolic pastor.

“The case cannot be closed yet, but that they gave in, they gave in, and that they are afraid, they are afraid,” said Demetrio.

The charcoal makers began the strike on January 19 after having received just 113 pesos this month, to which should be added the advance of 1,000 pesos received in December. The sum of both amounts is just over half the minimum wage announced by the Government for 2021: 1,910 pesos for 40 hours and 2,100 pesos for 44.

In addition, they did not receive the stipend that they usually receive for the benefits of a sector considered strategic by the Government, which from 2005 to 2019 (the last year for which there is consolidated data) has exported more than 266,100 tons of the product, bringing about 100 million dollars to State coffers, about 700 million of which was in 2019.

Despite the fact that many of them received pressure and threats from the authorities and State Security to abandon the protest, they maintained their demands.


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