Cuba has announced plans to lay off at least one million state employees as part of a move to revive the country's struggling economy.
The Cuban Labor Union announced on Monday that half a million of state workers would lose their jobs over the next six months alone.
The rest will be eventually fired during the next few years, mounting the total number of those fired to more than a million.
Those laid off will be encouraged to become self-employed or join new private enterprises.
This is said to be the biggest private sector shift since the 1959 revolution that eventually led to a communist system in Cuba.
"Our state cannot and should not continue maintaining companies, productive entities and services with inflated payrolls and losses that damage our economy," the labor union said in a statement.
It also said that it is necessary to reduce social spending as well as eliminate excessive subsidies and early retirement.
The Cuban government pays average monthly salaries of $20 to its citizens but it also provides free education and health care and heavily subsidizes housing, transportation and basic food.
The state sector currently accounts for 95 percent of all economic activities in the country.
The government now plans to promote the private sector and allow Cubans to start small businesses.
President Raul Castro had announced layoffs in August, but said they would occur over the next five years.
Castro has launched a few, small free-market reforms since taking over from his brother Fidel Castro in 2006.