Cuban Worker: ‘For That Salary I Prefer to Clean Windshields at a Traffic Light’

In addition to several administrative positions, teacher vacancies are offered at the job fair. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Madrid, January 20, 2024 — Desperate to recruit candidates for their many vacant positions, on Saturday morning managers and teachers from several schools in Havana were anxiously awaiting potential workers to fill positions in the educational sector. The “job fair,” however, barely attracted any interested parties, as confirmed by 14ymedio in a tour of these educational centers.

The catalog for the vent included event included a wide range of positions ranging from maintenance workers, through administrators to teachers. But the salaries, which at their peak barely exceeded 5,000 pesos*, failed to attract potential candidates and the outlook at the fair was bleak.

“One or two people have come but we are going to remain open until 11 in the morning in case someone arrives at the last minute,” acknowledged an employee outside the Felipe Poey Aloy Unified School on Zapata Street. “A girl and a retired man are the only ones who have come. She said that she was inquiring about a friend from the province who was coming to live in Havana.”

This Saturday at the entrance of the Felipe Poey Aloy Unified School, on Zapata Street in Havana. (14ymedio)

The information offered by directors and teachers was completely oral. “There is no paper to take with you with the information, no brochure that later allows you to calmly read all the offers. You have to ask about what interests you and they tell you the positions and salaries, so no one can remember anything,” lamented a young man, a Computer Science graduate, who approached to inquire about a position as a teacher in his subject.

At the entrance to the Rubén Martínez Villena high school, next to the Habana Libre hotel, a receptionist waited impatiently for the arrival of someone interested in knowing the list of available places. “We have everything and, furthermore, there is soon going to be a salary reform in Education and salaries are going to rise quite a bit,” she snapped at a young woman who approached to inquire.

Once inside the educational center, with numerous current workers participating in the fair but very few people interested in the positions, the woman turned to the Director. “We have several positions, from qualification courses and also places in day care centers, in primary schools, basic secondary schools and, if the person has a degree, we quickly place them.”

“The current salary for a teacher is 5,600* pesos more or less, but a salary reform is coming. They are finalizing the resolution, although we do not have details yet, we only know that seniority will be counted for the raises,” said an employee of the school. “All the years you have worked in Education must be uninterrupted or they will not be counted towards the raise.”

“We have several positions, from qualification courses and also places in day care centers, in primary schools, basic secondary schools and, if the person has a degree, we quickly place them”

In the municipality of Plaza de la Revolución, where the Rubén Martínez Villena secondary school is located, there are “three technological positions, one related to mechanics and automotive, another in computer science and a third in commerce and gastronomy that need teachers as soon as possible because there are many empty places” explained the center worker. “We write it down and the person starts working next week, we can’t wait.”

The long-awaited reform that the sector has been waiting for, after the recent salary increase for Public Health workers, should be a hook to attract new employees. However, the rampant inflation suffered by Cubans means that what until a few years ago seemed like high salaries have now become pennies in the face of the skyrocketing prices of basic products.

Liuba, 29, one of the few interested people who made it to the secondary school located on Línea and 4 streets in El Vedado, told 14ymedio ,”A carton of eggs, a bottle of oil and two pounds of beans,” that is what she would work for with a whole month in front of a classroom. “I came because my parents told me about the Fair, but I prefer to clean windshields at a traffic light.”

In another nearby school, a group of smiling employees took a photo for social networks. “We have to publish how the fair is going, we have to keep our Facebook account alive,” one preached. For the snapshot, they captured a young woman passing by, oblivious to the salaries in Education and the extensive drama of classrooms without teachers.

*Translator’s note: At current prices, a carton of 30 eggs sells for roughly 3,000 pesos.


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