Jueves, 13 de Diciembre de 2018
Última actualización: 09:06 CET

Low wages apparently spurring Manzana Kempinski workers to quit

A group of tourists walking by the Manzana Kempinski Hotel (SPIEGEL)

Some workers at the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, Cuba's most luxurious and expensive, earn salaries even lower than the national average, which seems to be prompting them to leave, according to the Uruguayan journalist Fernando Ravsberg in his blog Letters from Cuba (Cartas desde Cuba).

While one night at the hotel can cost $1,300, the cleaning staff earns 233 pesos (national currency) plus a bonus of 10 CUC (which the government equates to the dollar). An employee consulted by Ravsberg, without specifying her position, said that in total, she receives less than $20 a month.

According to the latest data published by the Government, the average monthly salary in 2016 was 740 Cuban pesos, equivalent to $29.60 USD.

The salary problems at the Kempinski seems to have spurred “several of the employees to resign, causing instability in terms of the trained personnel,” said Ravsberg.

“This creates difficulties for the foreign management, which would be willing to increase wages if the Cuban side allowed it, according to an employee,” he added.

Last June, just before the Manzana Kempinski was officially inaugurated, hotel security workers told DIARIO DE CUBA that they were earning around 350 Cuban pesos, plus 10 CUC per month.

An employee at the D'CUBA boutique said that she received 350 pesos and 10 CUC per month, plus 14 pesos per day to cover food costs.

Several of these workers expressed hope that wages would rise once the hotel opened, which apparently has not happened. All were contracted through a state employment agency, as required by the Government in its dealings with foreign companies.

These agencies keep most of the wages paid by foreign companies, and give workers an amount "in line" with Cuba's (low) wages.

The Manzana, which forms part of the inventory of the powerful GAESA military consortium, is run by the luxury Swiss chain Kempinski.

The hotel sparked controversy during its construction due to the meager wages paid Cuban workers. The Cubans were ultimately replaced by Indian workers, who earned $1,600 a month, 20 times more than workers on the island.

To justify this hiring GAESA's Almest Real Estate Company explained that the Indian workers were "three or four times more productive"than the average Cuban.