Cuba to cut 500,000 gov't workers; reform salaries

HAVANA – Cuba announced Monday it will cast off at least half a million state employees by mid-2011 and reduce restrictions on private enterprise to help them find new jobs — the most dramatic step yet in President Raul Castro's  push to radically remake employment on the communist-run island.
Castro suggested during a nationally televised address on Easter Sunday that as many 1 million Cuban workers — about one in five — may be redundant. But the government had not previously laid out specific plans to reduce the work force.
The layoffs will start immediately and continue through the first half of next year, according to the nearly 3 million-strong Cuban Workers Confederation — the only labor union allowed by the government.