Delegate Name: Simon Rothstein
UN Development Program
Worker Protection from Labor Exploitation
Simon Rothstein. Forest Hills Northern High School
Workers’ rights have been exploited and protected across the world since the beginning of time. From enslavement to union strikes, workers’ rights have seen both sides of exploitation.
Many countries consider the protection of workers to be of utmost importance, as their work supports the entire nation. Yet, others take advantage of their workers for the same reason; however, they want to support the country through forced or unjust labor. Since the adoption of a socialist economic system, replacing its old capitalist one, Cuba has recognized the importance of safeguarding workers’ rights and protecting them from labor exploitation.
Before the revolution, Cuba faced widespread labor exploitation under authoritarian regimes. The Cuban Revolution sought to eliminate these inequalities, leading to the establishment of labor reforms and the Cuban Workers’ Central (CTC), a union for protecting workers’ rights. In 1959, right after Castro rose to power, he passed the Agrarian Reform Act, which made foreign ownership of Cuban farmland illegal. Now, the peasants who previously worked on that land took ownership of it. The same year, the Labor Code of 1959 was passed, protecting workers’ rights by addressing workers’ hours, conditions, and wages and emphasizing the right for workers to participate in unions. In 1961, Castro declared Cuba a socialist nation, which inherently strengthened lower class worker’s rights compared to the previous capitalist state of the country. Several nationalization laws were put in place to give control of foreign-owned businesses to Cuba, thus eradicating capitalist exploitation. The Law on Social Security in 1963 provided benefits to workers such as healthcare, disability benefits, and pensions. These further protected workers from exploitation based on their health, disabilities, or age.
As Cuba has experienced both ends of the labor exploitation spectrum, it is confident in the belief that complete worker protection from labor exploitation is of utmost importance. Cuba ratified the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention to protect worker unions from anti-union discrimination, the Rural Workers’ Organizations to promote agrarian workers’ rights, and the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize to further protect labor rights. The ratification of these conventions demonstrates Cuba’s complete devotion to the protection of workers from labor exploitation.
Cuba’s pursuit of the expansion of worker protection from labor exploitation emphasizes the importance of workers’ representation through unions, the attention to new rising problems for which amendments must be made to properly protect workers’ rights, the worldwide extension of awareness of workers’ rights and their significance, and the recognition that economic growth and change must be mutually beneficial: both to the workers and to the growing business or organization. Through these initiatives, Cuba hopes to contribute to the worldwide expansion of worker protection from labor exploitation.