Cuban president Raul Castro has shocked the nation by saying about one in five workers may have to be made redundant.
Facing a severe budget deficit, the government hinted at restructuring or trimming its bloated workforce.
But the warning has caused tension in a country where guaranteed employment was a building block of the 1959 revolution that swept Fidel Castro to power.
Details are sketchy on how and when such pruning would take place.
Raul Castro warned however that "hundreds of thousands of unnecessary workers" may have to go.
Cuba's workforce totals 5.1 million, in a population of 11.2 million.