Cuba to lay off 500,000 state workers

Cuba says it will fire at least half a million state workers by the middle of next year and will encourage private enterprise to help them find new work – radically remaking employment on the communist island.

The lay-offs will start immediately, according to an announcement yesterday by the Cuban Workers Confederation – the only labour union the government tolerates. To soften the blow, the 3-million-strong union said the government would authorise simultaneous increases in job opportunities in the non-state sector, allowing more Cubans to become self-employed.