Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The State neglects the self employed

The State neglects the self employed
ORLANDO FREIRE SANTANA | La Habana | 25 de Enero de 2017 - 12:13 CET.

Many self-employed workers wonder where the money that they pay into
the Social Security system every month ends up.

Respect for worker rights is an issue that has moved to the fore due to
the expansion of self employment. In a country where the State once
stood as the sole employer, such that budgets and state entities were
the guarantors of paid vacations, subsidies and workers' pensions,
defining what will happen henceforth, given the advent of private
proprietors and their employees, is a pressing issue.

It is in this context that there appeared an article in the
newspaper Granma on 20 January. The author of the work criticized the
attitudes of some proprietors, allegedly reluctant to recognise certain
rights of their employees.

Among the rights mentioned are at least seven days of paid vacation time
per year, as well as the guarantee that pregnant women be able to return
to their jobs once their breastfeeding periods are over.

The journalist in question, however, is much less critical with regards
to state budget obligations towards self-employed workers, particularly
concerning the payment of funds to self-employed workers in the event of
illness or accidents.

The article in Granma limits itself to citing statements by the first
vice-minister of the Work and Social Security Ministry (MTSS), Marta
Elena Feitó Cabrera: "When the MTSS carried out studies on short-term
protection in the self-employed sector, it concluded that this was not
the time to protect workers in the event of short-term conditions, but
rather only for long-term cases featuring medical certificates of more
than six months."

In other words, if a self-employed worker falls ill or is injured, and
incapacitated for less than six months, he will not receive any type of
support. But this stands in contrast to the state's reaction if the
worker is a Government employee: they receive 60% of their basic
salaries starting on the fourth day of an illness.

This is a double standard that is even more inconsistent when one
realizes that most state workers don't even pay into the Social Security
system, whereas all self-employed workers, with the exception of the
pensioners and those of over the age of 65, are required to pay into it

Many remember the complaint filed by a self-employed worker from
the eastern city of Bayamo just a year and a half ago, which appeared in
the letters to the editor of Granma (14 August, 2015). The man suffered
a stroke that prevented him from working. What was the response of the
governmental authorities? The municipal body of the MTSS took his
self-employed worker credential away, while the National Tax
Administration Office (ONAT) just deregistered him as a taxpayer.
Although the man had punctually paid his taxes and paid into Social
Security, they left him without any economic support.

This discriminatory policy which the self employed suffer, along with
other policies affecting them - such as, for example, the failure to
restore a wholesale market where they can acquire supplies, or the fact
that they are not allowed to include all their expenses on their Sworn
Personal Income Statements – should be issues addressed by the unions
for the self-employed organised by the Government.

But they are not, as these unions prefer to focus on controlling their
members and making sure that they pay their taxes on time.

Source: The State neglects the self employed | Diario de Cuba -

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