The Endless Ordeal of Retirees in Matanzas, Cuba, to Collect their Pensions
The lack of workers is once again in the news on the Island. On this occasion, the protagonist is the shortage of professionals in the Post Offices, causing serious problems in the collection of pensions, according to the Matanzas newspaper Girón on Tuesday. The official media initially attributes the chaos to an employee who has been sick long-term and whom it has been impossible to replace permanently, but the branch director hints that the problem is not isolated.
“There is a shortage of workers, that is why we, the managers, are moving to make the corresponding payments. The solution depends on who we can hire”, says Ismary Hernández, director of the Post Office Unit in the Versalles neighborhood, in the city of Matanzas, to which the office of the old Medical Center belongs. The more than 200 retirees attached to this headquarters denounce that they have not been able to collect in a timely manner for months, as have the 130 people who receive social assistance at the same location.
Those affected are elderly people, many of them already with health problems, and who bitterly lament the difficulties it means for them to stand in line for days. Because the worst thing, they agree, is when the money runs out and the office closes, leaving them unpaid.
“It’s been happening for months,” says an 89-year-old retiree interviewed by the outlet. They show up at 10 or 11 in the morning. It’s not right to keep old people, including me, waiting here for so many hours. Yesterday at one in the afternoon they said the money had run out. We had to leave and come back today to stand in line again, when the compañera arrived at 11:30 to make the payments,” he says.
All the testimonies coincide in pointing out the negligence and bad manners with which the workers, when they are there, treat the pensioners. “It’s illogical for all in this town to come here at six-odd in the morning to stand in line, and it’s already 11:30 and no one shows up, not even to give us an explanation. Is it that, when someone retires, he no longer deserves consideration, doesn’t have value?” laments a retiree who worked for 49 years during his life.
“I have never gone through so much work to get paid as I do now. We are here without having breakfast, without eating anything”, protests another who, at 76, feels relieved for not being among the oldest and tells that an 89-year-old friend had to be helped by her children when she collapsed while waiting in line.
“They calmly tell you: ‘We ran out of money’, another says “I’m leaving.” Those who are working go home, and often the little old people don’t even have enough for a soda. “It’s a lack of respect to us” protests another one.
Having managers there has allowed things to go better this month, although everyone knows that it is not the solution. “This month was better, everyone was paid on time and the payment was quite fast”, says Hernández. “What happens is, and this has been explained to the clients on another occasion, that she, as an employee, has other responsibilities. Within these functions, she has been interspersing the payment to the assisted-retirees,” Bárbaro Ortega Araujo told Girón Ediesky, deputy director of the Post Office in Matanzas.
Yaneysi Remón Suárez, the company’s Director of Operations, maintains that she has requested personnel from the Ministry of Labor, but “so far no one has appeared.” The service requires, she adds, some training and, not only that, you have to be selective because of the large amounts of money they handle. “In greater quantity as a result of the Ordering Task and these salary increases. The institution manages millions of pesos,” she argues.
“Correos moves even more money than a bank on a given day,” she adds, but the salaries that are offered are not very attractive. The official states that a postman currently earns 2,600 pesos. “Anyone in another entity – such as a bank, Etecsa, new economic players – earns much more than a postman, who spends eight hours in the sun, pedaling and offering the service,” she explains.
As if that were not enough, there are no tires for bicycles, which makes traveling to deliver the mail impossible.
There are no short-term solutions either, acknowledge the managers. The official who has been multiplying her duties for three months must help with the payments, and although they affirm that “the negotiations do not stop” and that they are trying to increase salaries, one of the most advanced proposals is to mobilize those in the military service.
“When the borders were closed and the large avalanche of packages from international parcels ceased and people opted for shipments by sea, the Ministry of the Armed Forces helped us. We made a contract with them, with young men who were serving in the Military Service. We are calling for that too to resume,” Ortega Araujo states.