14ymedio, Pedro Espinosa/Juan Izquierdo, Havana, 21 January 2024 — The Cuban Electrical Union (UNE) needs operators, linemen, inspectors, economists, dispatchers and meter readers. However, attendees at Thursday’s job fair, sponsored by the state-owned enterprise in an effort to alleviate its worker shortage, were not met with promises of good salaries. Instead, they were greeted by a rusty sign over the gate to its operations center that read, “The Party is Immortal.”
The company’s Havana facilities, located on Independence Avenue in the Boyeros district, are well maintained. Several repair vehicles loaded with equipment and ladders are parked next to the main building. Also adjoining the premises is a training center for linemen where, on Thursday, several uniformed apprentices could be seen climbing poles and using training cables.
“All the state-owned companies are desperately looking for people because no one wants to work for them given how little they pay,” says one of the candidates for a lineman position.
All the state-owned companies are desperately looking for people because no one wants to work for them given how little they pay
Despite UNE’s need to increase staffing, company representatives at the fair did not go out of their way to tout the benefits of working for the company. Essential questions about the nature of the work were met with obfuscation, hemming and hawing, and “misdirection.” Shrugging her shoulders, the building’s receptionist apologized when asked about the pay. “I lost the salary schedule,” she replied.
After an expedited hiring process, the lineman positions — the best paid but also the most dangerous — were quickly filled. For those interested less risky positions, such as those for computer engineers or operators, the news was disappointing.
“The pay is 4,000 a month plus a performance bonus,” explained a department head to an applicant who had already been shuffled from one office to another. “If you exceed your target, you can earn between 9,000 and 12,000 pesos.” Hardly a tempting offer considering a police officer can make up to 15,000 pesos.
Not yet convinced, the candidate was told that transportation was provided for employees. Also needed are inspectors and meter readers, as well as security and protection workers, who require a higher level of certification than the average technician.
Those attending the fair, however, were able to confirm at least one thing. At the electric company, where blackouts are expected and excuses are made for the country’s energy crisis, every office is air conditioned and the place is amply lit. “Blackouts don’t happen here,” said one candidate as he exited under the same Communist Party sign that greeted him when he came in.
With its jobs becoming increasingly less attractive, and with little to offer potential employees, the public sector is running out of workers. The most recent strategy to improve the situation is to organize job fairs, which have proliferated throughout the country since December. Company directors highlight the advantages of working for the state: stability, more reliability and lots of job openings
Job-fair fever has spread throughout the island as officials from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security continue boasting of their success
The last point has proved to be an easy sell. The stampede to the private sector combined with the high level of emigration has meant that organizers of a single job fair last December in Guantanamo province were able to offer candidates more than 2,200 positions.
Job-fair fever has spread throughout the island as officials from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security continue boasting of their success. The ideal candidates, according state media, are those who are “not studying or not currently employed,” and who live in “vulnerable communities.”
One of the workplaces that has worked hardest to recruit Cubans “excited” to work for the state is Cubadebate, the flagship — along with Granma — of official state media. After an attempt to add more journalists to its payroll , the online news outlet received more than a few sardonic responses, some in the form of a query. One example: “Can journalists write their own articles or do they have to wait for the Communist Party to dictate them?”
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