The Cat TestMay 30, 2012 | Print |
HAVANA TIMES — Salvador Valdes Mesa, leader of Cuba’s only trade union, has already stated that wages won’t increase for a good while and that our ration cards — will disappear little by little.
A while back they eliminated cigarettes and cigars from them, then came the personal hygiene products, so it’s clear that in the future rice and sugar will be next in line.
What’s on the horizon then is little money and less food. And here, sometimes there’s not even food available for buying. Not a good thing.
So what remains of the “historic conquests” (free health care and education!) enjoyed by workers on this island?
But people already know that when they go to a doctor, they better take a snack for the professional, preferably items purchased in hard currency CUCs. The same thing goes for when you’re looking for a private tutor for your child.
I can’t criticize the attitudes of these professionals, their wages are ridiculous and they can’t even decide on the color of the walls in their offices.
A few other things were put in place for the nation’s proletariat to make life easier: Child day care centers and workers’ cafeterias.
But now many parents are unable to take their children to those daycare centers, and what can I say about the fate of those cafeterias.
You see, in those dining rooms, workers and professionals have no choice but to turn to the “cat test.”
What they do is give a small portion of their food to some cat, a test to see if the animal can eat it without throwing up or ending up with food poisoning.
In 2008, I thought these services were coming to an end. That’s when there began the official media campaign against those former “conquest” as by then having become “expenses that the government’s budget cannot possible cover.”
But that didn’t happen. Here we are in 2012 and a considerable number of workplace kitchens continue to operate.
First, the government decided to pay workers 15 extra pesos a day to make up for the virtually free lunches that were eliminated (imagine the joy of such a substantial wage increase).
But the illusion didn’t last long; apparently the planners didn’t do their math.
Work cafeterias continue serving the most horrendous food – typically five teaspoons of rice, hard and watery peas, and sour meatballs for vegetal protein.
A lot of the food ends up in the trash, with even the cats doing a 180 when they smell it.
The food is disgusting. Many workers have begun to bring a little snack from home, and I’m starting to wonder if the government hasn’t begun seeing this as a strategy/solution.
The elimination of workers cafeterias will turn out to be a windfall, one in which the government will probably hide behind the excuse of budgetary shortfalls.