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The Workers Central Union of Cuba (CTC) is the trade union federation in Cuba. It originated as the Confederación de Trabajadores de Cuba (Confederation of Cuban Workers) in 1939 and changed its name to the Central Union of Cuban Workers in 1961.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

Confederación de Trabajadores de Cuba (emblem).jpg
Full nameWorkers Central Union of Cuba
Native nameCentral de Trabajadores de Cuba
Members4 million
Key peopleUlises Guilarte de Nacimiento, General Secretary.
Office locationHavana, Cuba

The CTC unites 19 sectoral unions, organised in more than 81,000 workplaces, with elected municipal, provincial and national committees for each union, with all Cuban workers belonging to this trade union federation.[17][18][19][20] The CTC also has a weekly newspaper, Trabajadores.[21][22][23][24]


The early years: 1938-1959Edit

In the 1930s, the Cuban labor movement declined after an unsuccessful general strike against a government headed by Carlos Mendieta who initiated a period of harsh, anti-union persecution.[25][26] By the late 1930s, some Communist labor leaders reportedly supported Fulgencio Batista in exchange for the legalization of the Communist party and reorganization of the labor movement.[25] This change in the labor movement was capped with the establishment of the Confederation of Cuban Workers, or CTC, in 1938. The CTC was founded after the second Congreso Obrero Latinoamericano, held from 23 to 28 January 1939 in Havana and the Constituent Congress of the Confederation of Cuban Workers.[27][28] The Congress was attended by some 1,500 delegates from 700 mass organizations. The Congress elected Lázaro Peña, a leading communist trade union activist, secretary general of the CTC.

By the mid-1940s, many Cuban workers were unionized and covered by collective agreements; by the late 1940s, Communists lost control of the CTC, with their influence in the trade union movement gradually declining into the 1950s.[25] In the late 1940s, the government of Ramón Grau San Martín orchestrated a split of the CTC which forced out the communist leadership that had included sugar workers' union leader Jesús Menéndez and longshoremans' union leader Aracelio Iglesias, both murdered by suspected government agents. During the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista the CTC was led by Batista supporter Eusebio Mujal.

The coup by Batista in 1952, and the years until 1958, placed tremendous strain on the labor movement, with some union leaders resigning from the CTC in opposition to Batista. By 1958, the labor movement was a powerful force in Cuban society, with union members reaching nearly one million, or one in five workers.[25] After the Cuban Revolution in January 1959, the CTC was brought in line under the auspices of the Cuban Communist Party with those in the leadership of the CTC becoming more supportive of the country's government after purges and reported marginalization of certain individuals.[25][29][30] The Cuban government fundamentally changed the nature of unions in Cuba, with production standards issued in 1960, minimum output levels and collective work requirements for enterprises set and government advisory councils which dealt with worker discipline, safety and health, and working conditions established, intended to take the place of independent trade unions.[25]

Lázaro Peña returned from exile in Mexico to assume leadership of the new CTC. During this time, communists remained "on the fringes of the revolution" and didn’t start negotiations with Castro until the spring of 1958 when the defeat of Batista was inevitable, with the Communist Party, participating in the government and gaining power over the labor unions through its control of the Cuban Confederation of Workers.[30] The original leaders of the organization, such as anti-communist labor leader Eusebio Mujal, secretary general of the CTC from 1947 to 1959, were forced to flee after the seizure of power by Cuban revolutionary forces, led by Fidel Castro, in 1959.[31] Mujal, who had been a representative to the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Constitution of 1940 would later help found a group of Cuban workers in exile in the United States.

Role in Cuban society since 1959Edit

Throughout its history, the CTC always incorporated the vast majority of Cuban workers, making it the largest single national organization by membership, both before and after the Cuban Revolution. In November 1959, the CTC withdrew today from the anti-Communist Inter-American Regional Organization of Labor.[32] In October 1964, there was a reported split in the CTC between "new" and "old guard" Communists.[33]

After 1976, when the new Constitution of Cuba was adopted, popular participation through government-approved organizations such as the CTC was encouraged.[34] Since then, the union has stayed an ally of the Cuban government, with the latter arguing that when it listens to this union, it is "hearing all legitimate voices".[35][36]

On April 27 1996, the CTC held its 17th National Congress, which culminated in a march in Havana on May 1, May Day, or International Workers' Day.[37] Delegates to the conference focused on economic changes in recent years, especially efforts to overcome the economic crisis brought on by the demise of the Soviet Union, formerly Cuba's main trading partner. Additionally, unionists from other countries were invited guests, with activists from the United States part of a delegation of the U.S.-Cuba Labor Exchange. The Cuban union movement encompassed, at the time, over 97 per cent of Cuba's workers and worked closely with the governing Cuban Communist Party.

In the 21st century, the CTC continued its role in Cuban society. Pedro Ross Leal, then the General Secretary, described the organization as "class conscious", distinguishing them "from other international working associations." He also argued that "the methods of struggle have changed, we must know the role played by the social and political character-institutionalized Cuba everything improves and will continue to improve...I emphasize that Fidel's Cuba will be a worthy host of the XV World Union Congress."[38] Four years later, in 2009, a dissident was arrested for organizing a union which was not connected the CTC.[39] The following year, Salvador Valdes Mesa, secretary-general of CTC, then representing 3 million workers, the only Cuban labor union allowed in the country, wrote that "reorganization" in Cuba will "ensure redundant workers are reassigned rather than fired".[40] In 2012, Trotskyists, who said that the General Secretary of the CTC demanded that "the Cuban workers to work harder and more productively", admitted that the CTC has organized newly self-employed people.[41]

In November 2017, the US Government prohibited financial transactions, specifically "gifts" from those in United States to the secretaries and first secretaries of the Confederation of Labor of Cuba (CTC) and its component unions.[42] Around the same time, members of the WFTU, including one from the CTC, visited Athens, talking about "the long lasting history and solidarity of WFTU to the Cuban people".[43] Apart from this, the WFTU has held "solidarity" events for the "heroic people of Cuba", advocating to "stop to the blockade against Cuba" and to return "the territory of Guantanamo to the Cuban people". [44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51] This included "internationalism and solidarity with the Cuban Revolution" with some trade union meetings even held in Havana.

In December 2017, the CTC's General Secretary, Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento sent a message to the Cuban people and workers a few days from the 59th anniversary of the Revolution.[52] He also mentioned the young workers whom he described as those who will "continue and guarantee the Revolutionary process", calling on them "to be protagonists of the work underway in the Caribbean nation".

See alsoEdit


  • ICTUR et al.,, ed. (2005). Trade Unions of the World (6th ed.). London, UK: John Harper Publishing. ISBN 0-9543811-5-7.
  1. ^ ACN, "Cuban Labor Union Sends Message to Workers and Population in General," Periodico26, Dec 27, 2017.
  2. ^ Radio Havana, Day of Homage for 79th Anniversary of Confederation of Cuban Workers, ACN, Jan 6, 2016.
  3. ^ Dimas Castellanos, "The Cuban Communist Party and the Workers Central Union, Translating Cuba, Jul 2, 2013.
  4. ^ Yoani Sanchez, "Independent Labor Unions Outlawed in Cuba, for the ‘Proletariat’ and the Self-Employed Alike," Huffington Post, accessed Feb 2, 2018.
  5. ^ "Secretary General of the Workers' Central Union of Cuba visited Namibia," Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cuba, Oct 10, 2016.
  6. ^ Tomasz Pierscionek, "Trade unions in Cuba and the emergence of a private sector," London Progressive Journal, May 8, 2012.
  7. ^ Fiona Govan, "Cuba lays-off state workers in privatisation drive," The Telegraph, Jan 5, 2011.
  8. ^ Workers World Party, "Cuba- Workers Central of Cuba (CTC)," Nov 13, 2013.
  9. ^ Communist Party of Britain Marxist-Leninist, "Exclusive: Cuba, the unions, and the world," Jan/Feb 2016.
  10. ^ "Feature: Cubans stage massive rallies for May Day celebration," Xinhua, May 5, 2015.
  11. ^ Redaccion Central, "Cuba Prepares for World Youth Festival," Radio Reloj, Jun 7, 2017.
  12. ^ Cubans stage massive rallies for May Day celebration, Xinhua, May 3, 2015.
  13. ^ Raimundo Urrechaga, "Feature: Cubans celebrate May Day, showing support for reforms," Xinhua, May 2, 2016.
  14. ^ Viva Marjua Estevez, "First U.S. Cruise Sets Sail To Cuba, While May Day In Havana Calls For The Return Of Guantanamo Bay," Vibe, May 2, 2016.
  15. ^ Cheryl LaBash, "Spouse of Cuban 5 hero to speak at labor conference," International Action Center, Jul 27, 2012.
  16. ^ "Cuban union leader speaks on changing U.S.-Cuba relations," Fight Back! News, Oct 14, 2016.
  17. ^ Cuba Solidarity Campaign UK, "Trade Unions," 2015, accessed feb 17, 2018.
  18. ^ Cuba Explorer, "Our Cuba Project," accessed Feb 17, 2018.
  19. ^ John Bachtell, "Cuba’s worker cooperatives: “We decide what to do here”," People's World, Apr 15, 2015.
  20. ^ Ivet González, "A Changing of the Guard in Cuba," InterPress Service, Feb 26, 2013.
  21. ^ Katarina Hall, "The Ugly Truth: A Deeper Look Into Cuba’s Media," Victims of Communism, Nov 6, 2016.
  22. ^ Daisy Valera, "Cuba’s CTC Union Chooses Its Side," Havana Times, Apr 2, 2013.
  23. ^ Bill Preston and Carl Gentile, "Cuba's Economic Reforms: Strengthening the Cuban Revolution," Marxism-Leninism Today, accessed Feb 17, 2018.
  24. ^ "Cuba’s May First Message: “Hard Work and Sacrifice” to Save the Revolution," MercoPress, May 3, 2010.
  25. ^ a b c d e f US State Department, "Cuban Labor Practices: Overview of Organized Labor in Cuba," Sept 13, 2001, accessed Feb 17, 2018.
  26. ^ George Lakey and Olivia Ensign, Cubans general strike to overthrow president, 1933, Global Nonviolent Action Database, Swarthmore College, 2010.
  27. ^ Nuria Barbosa León, "Preparations underway for the 2019 Cuban trade union congress," Granma, Feb 13, 2018.
  28. ^ Cuban Solidarity Campaign, "UK unions send fraternal messages to mark CTC 70th anniversary year," Jan 28, 2009.
  29. ^ Paul Berman, "Cuban Solidarity and the Death of the Tyrant," Tablet Magazine, Nov 30, 2016.
  30. ^ a b Juan Goytisolo, translated by Barbara Probst Solomon, "20 Years of Castro’s Revolution," The New York Review of Books, Mar 22, 1979.
  31. ^ AP, Eusebio Mujal, Labor Leader From Cuba and a Castro Foe, New York Times, Mar 30, 1985, accessed Feb 17, 2018.
  32. ^ R. Hart Phillips, "Cuban Labor Cuts Inter-America Tie with Foes of Reds; Plans Latin Confederation of Revolutionary Workers -- Opens Door to All Session[;] Stormy Castro's Calls for Unity Fail to Heal Rift in Congress -- Election Is Postpone[;] Cuban Labor Cuts Inter-America Tie," New York Times, Nov 23, 1959.
  33. ^ Juan de Onis, "A Split in Labor Reported in Cuba," New York Times, OCT. 9, 1964.
  34. ^ Cuba Under Castro, Political and Economic Changes in the 1970s, accessed Feb 17, 2018.
  35. ^ Angelo Florez de Andrade, "Cuba and Venezuela Use Labor Unions to Bolster Regime Support," Panam Post, May 2, 2017.
  36. ^ "Cuba Explains New Tax System," VOA, Oct 21, 2010.
  37. ^ Gloria La Riva, "Cuban Labor Congress to Meet in Havana," Workers World, Apr 25, 1996.
  38. ^ Interview With Pedro Ross Leal, General Secretary of the Confederation of Cuban Workers, Marxism-Leninism Today, 2005.
  39. ^ Jack Otero, "A Cuban Labor Activist's Courage," Washington Post, June 2009.
  40. ^ Anne-Marie Garzia, "Zero-percent unemployment: Cuba's labor strife," AP, Aug 10, 2010.
  41. ^ Samuel Farber, Who do Cuba's unions defend?, Socialist Worker, May 15, 2012.
  42. ^ Amendments To Implement United States Policy Toward Cuba," Federal Register, Nov. 9, 2017.
  43. ^ WFTU, "Greece: Meeting between WFTU General Secretary and the CTC-Cuba National Secretariat Member Perez Drullet Ismael," Nov 20, 2017.
  44. ^ WFTU, "Campaign of International Solidarity with Cuba: Photos and documents of WFTU actions worldwide," July 26, 2017.
  45. ^ WFTU, "Brussels: The internationalist event of solidarity with the people of socialist Cuba started today with the participation of 30 trade unionists from 11 countries," Jun 27, 2017.
  46. ^ WFTU, Brussels: Special event to honour the international delegates participating in the Solidarity Conference with Cuban People, Jun 8, 2017.
  47. ^ WFTU, "The Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba in Greece visited the WFTU Central Offices in Athens, Greece," May 12, 2017.
  48. ^ WFTU, "Successful conclusion of the first day of works of the WFTU Presidential Council Meeting in Havana, Cuba," May 4, 2017.
  49. ^ WFTU, The WFTU Presidential Council Meeting concluded with great success on 4th May 2017 in Havana, Cuba, May 5, 2017.
  50. ^ WTFU, Cuba: International Solidarity Meeting with the Cuban People, May 5, 2017.
  51. ^ WFTU, WFTU Delegation Headed by the General Secretary of the WFTU attended the May Day Rally in Havana, Cuba, May 5, 2017.
  52. ^ Otros Autores, "Cuban Labor Union Sends Message to Workers and Population in General, Giron, Dec 28, 2017.

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