Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


FL281550 Havana Tele-Rebelde Network in Spanish 2315 GMT 27 Dec 85

[President Fidel Castro address to National Assembly of the People's
Government on labor discipline at Havana's Palace of Conventions on 27
December -- recorded]

[Text] I believe Veiga has explained a good part of what I would have said
concerning the same subject.  Veiga's explanation is calm and reasonable;
in addition, it is courageous.  In these problems one must be very honest
and avoid to the degree possible being influenced by populism and
demagoguery.  I do not mean to say that the comrade who has presented this
measure has been influenced by populism or demagoguery, but we who must
constantly deal with these problems have the duty to be very calm and
serene when doing so.

Logically, Decree No 32 is not a pleasant decree because everything that
tends to establish discipline anywhere is unpopular and unpleasant, I
believe we have done a lot in the revolution where guarantees to the
workers are concerned.  I believe that at certain moments our concern was
excessive; we were idealists.  It was as if we were already living in a
communist society, as if everyone were fully conscious of his obligations,
We let up a lot and became less demanding.  Persons who do not want
problems are not demanding enough.  I believe we have done a lot in the
revolution where guarantees to the workers are concerned.  I believe that
at certain moments our concern was excessive; we were idealists.  It was as
if we were already living in a communist society, as if everyone were fully
conscious of his obligations, We let up a lot and became less demanding.
Persons who do not want problems are not demanding enough.  I do not
believe we are too demanding or that we put too much emphasis on
discipline, I think we were too undisciplined.  This is what led to the
approval of Decree No 32.  Then Decree No 36 was approved for
administrative workers.  I do not know whether their umber was changed but
I think so, 32 and 36.

One hears the complaint that the measure is applied to the workers and not
to the administrative workers and this must be true.  I believe we must
work to overcome this problem... [passage indistinct] These things happen
in many countries.  We have at least learned to be punctual, as a general
rule.  In the early years of the revolution, no one was punctual.  Not even
those of us who should have been giving a good example were punctual.  Then
we tried to be an example of punctuality.

Struggle has taught us to be disciplined; the people's military training
has brought us elements of discipline, has brought elements of discipline
to our culture.  Industry also brings discipline.  This is not true of
agriculture, which depends on animals, yokes of oxen, etc.  Oxen never have
to be greased or fueled, but the tractor must be repaired, maintained,
greased, filled with gasoline and water, and its tires and battery have to
be taken care of, etc.  Industry brings discipline.  Underdevelopment
brings a lack of discipline.  It has been necessary to struggle against
many things.

More than once I have had to speak and protest the way in which many people
move into an unoccupied building.  The revolution has never evicted...
[changes thought] how many illegal occupants do you suppose there are?
Every time it has been necessary to resolve the problem of illegal
occupancy it has been necessary to find 10 apartments to be able to use a
building for a scientific or educational activity.  The revolution is not
characterized by the use of police or the Army or of force to impose
discipline.  Some people occupy a piece of land just anywhere or next to
the place they live, so there are many manifestations of a lack of
discipline of one kind or another.  We must struggle against this in every
way, not just on the job.  What I want to say is that we are not
characterized by excessive rigorousness; we are not too demanding.  The
opposite tends to be true, so it is very important that we avoid becoming
confused [words indistinct], adopt the opposite Position, and act
discouraged or abandon the struggle for greater discipline.

In general, as everyone knows, the best workers are not the ones who have
disciplinary problems. [words indistinct] their work that Reynaldo has had.
He says that in this country prizes, decorations, and honors are given,
[and] thousands of workers travel abroad.  There are thousands of them, I
have never heard that any of those workers had a problem with discipline.
[laughs] In truth, undisciplined people are those who have problems with
discipline; they are not the best workers.  They are not the ones who
[words indistinct].  They are not the most serious-minded. [words
indistinct] they are a minority; they are not a majority of the people at
all.  We should not judge our people by the existing lack of discipline,
whether there are 10, 20, or 50 thousand cases, because we have millions of
workers and millions of good workers who are reliable.  The problems occur
among a minority... [words indistinct]

Nevertheless, it is the duty of our society to protect all workers,
including the undisciplined.  We must avoid being unjust with the small
group of undisciplined workers; and especially if two or three unjust
decisions can be made in a group of 20 decisions, we must strive not to
make those two or three unjust decisions.  To this end, we must provide
guarantees.  When the decree was promulgated, the right to appeal the
administrative decision was established, the right to appeal.

An undisciplined worker can demoralize a work staff.  I could tell a lot of
anecdotes on the subject, of individuals who have done the most
extraordinary things, who have even stolen or did whatever they wanted,
even committing gross errors, and when a sanction was applied, 24 hours
later [words indistinct] demoralizing everyone.  The disciplined workers
encouraged the undisciplined, demoralizing the authority of the
administration [words indistinct] frequently.

Whenever we have studied a train collision for example, or a traffic
accident, in almost every case the accident was due to a lack of
discipline.  Either a regulation was not observed. or the train left, or
the automobile did not do what it should have, or what-have-you.

In each accident in which human life is lost -- 20, 30, 40 lives may be
lost -- as a rule there is always a lack of discipline.  This is why we
drew up stricter railway regulations that are more rigorous.  A train is
not a person riding a bicycle.  There is the responsibility for the lives
of 200, 300 persons.  Greater discipline must be demanded of the worker
because the lives of those citizens must be guaranteed.  A bus has
responsibility for 30, 40 or 50 persons who may be children, pioneers, or
basic secondary school students.  We always work to select the most
responsible drivers for the vehicles that transport students; we always
insist on this.  When there is an accident, it is often due to the driver
not observing the law or because he did not take the trouble [words
indistinct] not the children of the bourgeousie or of millionaires; they
are the children of workers. [words indistinct]

I believe our labor discipline will one day merit serious analysis.  We try
to apply the same discipline at all places of employment. [Words
indistinct] the duties of a soldier.

No one can imagine an army without discipline, but a railroad without
discipline or of any transport without discipline cannot be imagined
either.  Even more: One cannot conceive of a hospital without discipline,
and this affects everyone more closely.  Everyone has to go to the
hospital, or his wife has to go, or his children or grandson's children,
his uncle, his aunt or his mother or father or grandparents have to go.
And whenever anyone enters a hospital he wants absolutely the best
treatment.  But if the cleaning personnel have not cleaned, this displeases
everyone.  If an intravenous solution is being applied, the citizen would
like the doctor to look in and the nurse to be there all the time.  When
medication must be given at an exact time, they want the exact medicine at
the exact time.  And if sheets have to be changed, they want them changed
at the exact time.

And if a patient has to be bathed, they want it exactly on time.  And the
meals have to be on time.  Everything has to be exactly on time, and with
optimum hygiene.

Doctors, administrative personnel, nurses, and aides work at a hospital,
and discipline is needed in a hospital, Nevertheless, our labor code and
our labor laws demand the same discipline for a hospital as for a cabaret.
And a hospital is not the same thing as the tropicana.  And a physician or
a nurse who is taking care of human life does not have the same type of
responsibility as a person who is attending revelers.  We want revelers to
receive good service; the basic duty of the person employed there is to
give good service.  But should we demand the same discipline in a hospital
as in a cabaret or restaurant or stadium or what-have-you.

We believe that hospitals need special discipline, just as we know that
schools need special discipline because the children of the country are
there.  A bad example in a school has much greater repercussions; the
damage done to a child is much greater if, for example, someone strikes a
child, slaps him because one loses patience.  It is worse than slapping a
grown-up.  And we even prepared a special regulation for schools.

There are many activities [changes thought], I think, really believe we
should have a special regulation for discipline in the hospitals, [passage
indistinct] a meeting with the hospitals of the capital of the Republic,
more than 50 hospitals, and institutes.  Two days [words indistinct].  The
hospital directors were present.

We have more and more resources of every kind; we even have more doctors
and nurses. [passage indistinct] The professor, the instructor, the
assistant -- everyone goes to sleep.  This is a tendency towards a lack of
discipline. [words indistinct] has become a teaching hospital, and if the
department head and his subordinates do not do night duty, and we are
beginning to see many important specialists that do not do night duty
although night duty is necessary in hospitals, a tendency towards a lack of
discipline may be created that must be corrected.

There is the case of the undisciplined citizen. [passage indistinct] many
go to the emergency room; they feel safer when they go to the emergency
room because they know that the professors of medicine, the most eminent
physicians are there.  Many citizens unnecessarily jam the emergency rooms
of the hospitals, They stupidly [passage indistinct].

In an emergency situation on certain days, above all Mondays and Tuesdays
there are not sufficient physicians or specialists.  We have been studying
all those problems to see if there are cases of indiscipline, bad habits We
also paid special attention to discipline.  There the problem was real.  It
was explained by nurses, comrades of the party, managers, who said that in
some cases indisciplined workers were creating a demoralizing situation.
The workers were being penalized hut in the end they were being exonerated,
workers who had no shame.  Nevertheless, I feel that even those who behave
in such a manner have rights; they should not he victims of an injustice.
We should see to it that they be given a correct treatment and adequate and
just penalty.

Some people there told us about the many duties of a chief of services in a
hospital, which are clearly defined as medical treatment and training.  The
chief of the nursing department in a hospital has numerous duties,
according to the rules and associated obligations.  What was explained was
that sometimes they have to participate in tribunals several times as a
result of disciplinary actions I can imagine the director of a hospital
such as the Calixto Garcia, which has 1,000 or more beds, or the chief of
nurses of a big hospital having to participate three, four, or five times
in a disciplinary tribunal.  They have no jurists or legal representatives
to attend these trials.

A hospital director should not be forced to do it because he would not be
able to fulfill important duties at the hospital.

The chief of nurses should not he forced to go to these disciplinary
tribunals.  When someone says lightly that whoever dictated the measure
should be the one to go to disciplinary tribunals, he and we, without
realizing what we are saying, could be creating a chaos in many important
institutions where I have observed the personnel to be very tense because
of the work, because of our demands, and because of union meetings,
scientific meetings, party nucleus meetings, or whatever meetings, maybe
400 of them.  They do not have sufficient time to go around and fulfill all
those duties.

We want them to devote their time to the institution.  We have that type
of problem.  Not only do they have the problems outlined before, but they
also have problems because of formalities, or administrative measures
issued there or in other tribunals.  There are paternalistic tribunals,
that is the truth, Their task is penalizing, which is quite unpleasant, or
ratifying a penalty, hut they are away from their duties at the hospital
attending the ill.

As you all know, we are selecting an ever-growing selection of physicians
for the hospitals, and we try to train increasingly better physicians,
scientifically as well as politically.  And I believe we are achieving our

We have excellent physicians with an exceptional attitude, physicians who
go to Nicaragua, anywhere.  If you ask 1,000 graduating physicians how many
are willing to go to a certain place as physicians because they are needed,
100 percent of them volunteer and go.  I am not aware of anyone who has
said: I will not go.

In the nursing department we have to train more and better nurses, and we
are making every effort to achieve that.  We are going to improve the
programs as we did with the physcians.  A large majority of the
preuniversity students are registering for that field.  In the past there
were only 15-year-old girls.  These girls were being sent to the nursing
school because they had graduated from ninth grade.  They started working
at the hospital, and when they became ill they were referred to the

However, when we did not have sufficient high school graduates, if we
wanted to train nurses there was no other option but to accept them.  Many
nurses used to say: they are too young, some of them still play with dolls.
Well we have made great progress; we are now having high school graduates
in large numbers registering for nursing at the preuniversities.  We still
have problems in Havana.  There are no such large numbers.  In many
provinces those registering are preuniversity students.

We are trying to get them a little older, l7 or l8 years.  Instead of
having 2 years of studies, we are requiring 3 years so they will be better
prepared.  For nurse auxiliaries it is different.  They are supplied by the
Labor Ministry.  Those are people who have no jobs, or are not local
residents In many instances you find many excellent nurse auxiliaries with
20 years of experience, perhaps with fewer years.  But transients, lacking
discipline -- those are different.

Added to this is the fact that the work of nurse auxiliaries has not been
given attention, The selection of the nurse auxiliaries should be given
special attention.  Sometimes there are too many.  We are requiring
specialization instead of those with many skills.  The reason for all this
is complicated, requires a long explanation.  We should look to seniority
to seek permanency and special payment Nurses have it.  According to wage
measures adopted recently for the nursing personnel, they are paid more if
they are in remote places, or assigned to a lazaretto.  However, the nurse
auxiliary, who has the same duties and works very hard in hospitals, has no

We did the same thing with construction workers to attain permanency in the
job.  But the nurse auxiliaries do not have seniority or special wages for
difficult work.  The same thing has to be given in all areas so we may be
able to make a better selection of hospital workers.  We also need
discipline in those hospitals.

One of the things they were demanding was that.  They said that we get
together, the measures are adopted, and later nothing happens.  We also
looked at the statistics because one has to keep in mind how many are
penalized, how many appeal.  From the information I received, the
percentage was not too high, but the data has to be studied.

I even said that when an extreme penalty is decided, such as separation
from the job -- penalties which as you know are provisional because there
is the right to appeal -- try to have all factors correct, examine them
well in cases of drastic penalties.  The supervising council should examine
the cases very carefully so that everyone agrees on the findings.  If a
tribunal hears the director, the party secretary, the union, the nurses,
everybody, then the tribunal can rightfully say that it represents the
opinion of an entire unit, not a single individual who might have reached
his decision unjustly, in the heat of an argument, in an instant of
irritation.  I said they should make sure that those measures are carefully
examined at the unit and be submitted to the tribunal with a greater moral
strength, and the tribunal will realize it is not a single individual
submitting the evidence but an entire unit.

Some of the practical measures were suffering.  If this is done in print or
in a model form and quickly, then this is absolutely incorrect.  It seems
to me that what Comrade Juanito Escalona said is correct.  These problems
should all be studied, personnel should be prepared, the legal adviser or
representative should be revealed.  Who can represent the administration?
How should this process be carried out?  Complementary legislation, if
necessary, to reduce to a minimum the cases where a tribunal concludes with
a decision for a year's backpay.

Veiga explained very well that it would be absurd for the administrator to
bring the charges because it would totally destroy the administrator's
authority.  It would be better to remove him as administrator, if they tell
him they will pay him for requiring discipline since we sin by lack of
discipline and we are constantly demanding more and there is a greater
struggle against the problems for which some are responsible.  We will not
penalize a man now because maybe he had to apply ten of these measures and
three were completed.  His salary is not sufficient.  We are not going to
require him to become a thief to make his payments.  We are not going to
pay him because ten measures have properly been applied.  It is possible
that the country has been saved 30,000, 40,000, or 50,000 pesos and we are
not going to give the administrator I million pesos.  We will give him 50
million pesos because you have been more productive and efficient because
of discipline?  It does not make sense.

It is the responsibility of the state.  What the state should do and the
state organs should do are the responsibility of the administration,
especially studying the problem, adopting pertinent measures so that these
cases do not occur even though some cases will always occur.  There may
even be a unit that is mistaken, but then there could be a judge who makes
an error or who has a different appreciation.  There will always be cases
We should statistically study how many cases are of greater penalties such
as separation, How many recur?  How many return?  The cases where those
people return should be studied.  How many are due to court procedure
problems?  How much is due to the judges' paternalization?  How much is due
to the administration's superficiality, which is responsible for the

Clearly I am speaking about the case in the hospital I do not know about a

I gave this advice in a hospital because we were studying the problem that
could affect the quality of hospital services.  In this great world of
activities of all types, service, production, and material production, I
imagine there are many situations that obligate us to perfect the method to
avoid [correct himself] guarantee discipline, prevent injustice.

We should not expect that in 100 percent of the cases the decision will be
correct.  The number of mistaken decisions is minimal and they have been
rectified by the tribunals.  Sometimes goals are behind schedule.  A
reduction in efficiency shows this.  Like Veiga said, there may be more
requirements now because the plan is more tense.  A series of measures have
been taken in the economy and there are requirements for conservation in
combustible raw materials, and the administration is demanding more because
they have originated a greater quantity of disciplinary measures.  It could
be that there is another explanation and the measure is not applied.  If we
expect 100 percent to be approved, and we are going to measure efficiency
in that method, we are searching for the Impossible. We, therefore, need to
get accustomed -- no matter how perfect the measures are that we take, now
matter how perfect the steps are, and no matter how just the decisions are
-- to the fact that 10O percent will not be achieved all the time because
men have opinions on one side and other men have different opinions.

We cannot be sad when someone receives a decision from the tribunals
because that is the socialist system.  That is socialist justice for that
man.  I really prefer that an undisciplined person who does wrong be
penalized instead of having an innocent person, a good worker, be unjustly

We should depart from those principles even though we know that these
discipline problems are not a problem for the majority of workers, among
whom are so many outstanding men, heroes, and vanguard members.  It is a
problem for a minority of people.  We should establish our procedures and
laws in such a way as to absolutely guarantee all citizens.  I believe that
the idea of having the director there is not reasonable.  I think it should
be a well-prepared legal representative, This demonstrates once again the
need for a legal framework.

For a long time, at the beginning of the revolution, we thought there was
an excess of attorneys.  I was the first to participate in that type of
allergy towards attorneys because we had such cases against agricultural
engineers, professors, chemical engineers, industrial engineers,
architects.  It was very despairing, and yet we had a university full of
attorneys.  And at the time of building socialism we saw that the attorneys
did not even know how to direct an agricultural farm, give technical
services, drive a tractor, direct a factory, or project anything.  We said:
there is an excess of lawyers.  This is because of the capitalistic
superstructure.  We discovered later that there was a need for judges in
the tribunals, in the municipalities, in all parts.  Legal advisers were
needed.  We discovered that the attorney was necessary.

A few years ago we were training doctors and engineers well, They were
outstanding here and there, We decided to train an outstanding legal
student.  A study was performed on their training and in the past few years
they have been receiving special attention.

All of these acts demonstrate the need for the attorney or jurist in
socialism because they need to represent the hospital, the businesses in
all those cases.  They need to study and interpret the laws and take the
correct steps.  To make a model of punishing people is a fraud, a
completely careless job that I think we have to eradicate.  I think that a
measure such as this should have a well-defined basis and no one can use
the pretext of being concerned or not having enough time, I do not know if
there is a [Unreadable text] for a small model, but there is a basis for
the decision taken.

I believe that the comrades from the Ministry of Justice and the specialist
are the ones who should make the decision, work, and expand [words
indistinct], I am convinced that we need discipline, that we need to
perfect discipline in labor and perfect procedures.  As Veiga said, it is
not possible to charge the administrator.  We can take other measures.  It
is really absurd to charge or establish that the one who makes the decision
has to go there. [Words indistinct] has 5,000 workers, 1,500, 2,000 [words
indistinct] that really does seem like work to me. [words indistinct]

The report seems good to me.  Juanito Escalona's summary seems good to me.
It seems to me to have been very-well organized. [Words indistinct] the
response given by the Ministry of Justice to the concern expressed here.