Indian Workers Earn "Three Or Four Times More" Than Cubans, According To
The Official Press / 14ymedio, Mario Penton
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 17 October 2016 — Three months after the
revelation of the presence of workers from India in the construction of
a luxury hotel in Havana, on Saturday the Cuban press mentioned, and
tried to explain, the fact that domestic workers have been replaced by
foreign workers with the argument that the Asians perform "three or four
"The result of their work is very high quality. Their presence results
in taking great advantage of the workday, resulting in greater
productivity," said a report by the journalist Marianela Martin,
published in Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth) and reproduced on the
What the Cuban newspaper does not mention is that, according to Reuters,
the wages paid by the French company Bouygues to the Indian builders is
some 1,600 dollars a month, 53 times more than Cubans doing the same
work are paid (some 30 dollars). In the best of cases, with a bonus
included, Cubans can earn a maximum of 100 dollars a month, with the
Asians still earning 16 times more.
As the main reason for the hiring of foreigners, the directors of the
Almest Real Estate Company argue the mobility of people trained in Cuban
schools, who seek better paid work.
The publication notes, however, that "there is a permanent improvement"
in the living conditions of the Cuban workers, among which it cites the
constant assurance of work. Another "privilege" mentioned is
"transportation from the shelters where they live to the worksite" and
"the food offered is good, and so are the conditions where they spend
It also mentions "a study for the application of a new payment system,"
but clarifies that it will not be "wage reform."
Experts consulted by this newspaper corroborated that contracting for
foreign personnel for tourist projects in Cuba is a common practice, but
the case of the Indian workers is notable for the numbers involved. They
are not only working in Havana, but also in the construction of several
hotels in Varadero and other areas of the country.
The civil engineer Bladimir Ayra Estrada, vice president of the Arcos
BBI International Economic Partnership, involved in construction in
Cuba, explains that "with the presence of workers from India in the
projects, jobs that have been lost are being recovered."
According to Ayra Estrada, along with the Indian workers, Cubans are
being put to work to learn the trades. The manager recognized that his
business is taking fundamental advantage of recent graduates in
technical courses related to construction, because they leave after
finishing their social service (a three year period in which graduated
students must work in the specialty in which they graduated).
Electricians, carpenters, plumbers and masons working on Cuban hotels
being built in tourist areas are usually hired through the 13 employment
agencies in the country. These are state enterprises created to recruit
the best of the skilled workers on the island. They hire workers for
wages in Cuban pesos (CUP) and in some cases with bonuses in Cuban
Convertible pesos (CUC: 1 CUC = 25 CUP) while offering their services to
foreign companies, adjusting their prices in dollars. It is a business
that allows the state to realize significant gains, as it gets most of
The Cuban government is committed to promoting tourism as a way to boost
its stagnant economy. Last year Cuba hosted more than three and a half
million tourists, so it has had to make major adjustments and
investments to balance the demand for rooms with supply.
The Manzana hotel, where the largest contingent of Indians is working,
is located in Manzana de Gómez, which was the first major commercial
center of the Cuban capital. Completion is scheduled for early 2017 and
the project will be operated by the Kempinski International Hotel Chain
and the Business Administration Group (GAESA), which belongs to the
Cuban Armed Forces.
*Translator's note: The State agencies collect the wages paid for the
Cuban workers and pass on to the workers only a small share, retaining
the rest in the government coffers.
Source: Indian Workers Earn "Three Or Four Times More" Than Cubans,
According To The Official Press / 14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating