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The Associated Press January 3, 2011, 7:16PM ET

Cuba official says state worker layoffs have begun

The head of the Cuban Workers Confederation says the first layoffs have begun in the communist government's program to cut the jobs of 500,000 state workers.

Cuban state-run media quotes Salvador Valdes as saying the initial layoffs are occurring in the sugar, agriculture, tourism, health and construction sectors.

Cuban media, including Monday's edition of the weekly Trabajadores, say Valdes made the comments during a meeting with workers' representatives but don't specify when it took place.

The layoffs are to affect 10 percent of Cuba's government work force and are supposed to finish by March. The job cuts are part of an economic overhaul aimed at slashing government expenditures.

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