trabajadores, cooperativa

Two “illegal” workers from a construction cooperative denounce non-payments

Havana Cuba. – During an interview with CubaNettwo employees of a construction cooperative based in the Cuban capital denounced non-payment for their work.

Yoel Ocanto Castañeda, one of those affected, explained to this medium that he worked as a bricklayer in the “Santa Fe” Construction Cooperative, in which he was never paid the agreed amount for his work and ended up defrauding him, he says.

“On December 30 [de 2021] they paid us 5,000 pesos only and exclusively. That was all since October [cuando comenzaron a trabajar]. We cast almost 200 meters of concrete, so the salary must have been minimal, from 20 to 25,000 pesos,” explained Ocanto Castañeda.

After the payment, the directors of the non-agricultural cooperative promised that the following month [enero de 2022] they would pay the remaining 20,000 pesos. However, to date they have not kept their promise.

“These are the holy hours in which they have given us nothing and we continue to be scammed,” lamented the interviewee.

Despite the non-payment, the two workers continued to work in other activities in the same cooperative and, even so, they did not receive the corresponding payment either. “We didn’t want to leave to see if we finally got paid, but nothing, neither the old nor the new,” says Ocanto Castañeda.

“They sent us to excavate a third house and after the excavation was done they explained to us that it could not be paid because there was no budget or contract made,” says the interviewee.

Likewise, he assures that this situation was known to all the executives of the Cooperative, who asked the workers to “wait”.

Lázaro Piney Vergara, Ocanto Castañeda’s co-worker, says that the directors of the Cooperative justified the non-payment with alleged “errors” and “delay in contract documentation”, and that they assured them that they would be paid “later”.

“Later we were ordered to go to the Cooperative to associate and it turns out that when all this problem arose, the new bosses told us that they could not defend us because we were there without a contract, that the only one who could solve this problem was the president of the Cooperative, which was the one who knew that there was a brigade working there without a contract.”

However, he only paid them 10,000 pesos to be shared among three workers, according to Piney Vergara.

According to those interviewed, they worked on the construction of at least three houses, contracted to the Cooperative by the La Polar beer factory.

“On this issue I even lost my marriage because my wife did not understand that I had been working for four months and that I came home without a means of payment. In the end they scammed us”, concludes Piney Vergara.

workers without contract

According to Guillermo Velázquez, coordinator of the Cooperative, this situation was derived from the poor work of the old management of the entity, which, as he said, “was totally restructured.”

“In the old management, there were contractors who were working and those who were not paid. Cooperatives have a limit of up to 40 members and up to 60 legal contractors. The illegal ones are already a problem for the group leaders”, he pointed out.

Velázquez explained that the group leaders are the ones who pay the workers without a contract “out of their own pocket”.

The official, a lawyer by profession, also explained that workers hired “illegally” are not protected by law to make any claim in case of non-payment.

“The problem is that these workers do not have any legal document that justifies that they work here and, if they made the contract, but it did not reach Human Resources, it cannot be claimed.”

“The only thing these people can do is look for the one who was their group leader so that he pays them their money,” he concluded.

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