Independent Cuban transportation workers are joining unions as part of a sweeping economic overhaul that's allowing increased private-sector activity.

The official labor newspaper Trabajadores says workers including bicycle taxi operators, car washers and people who repair tires are joining existing syndicates.

Havana bike taxi union representative Carlos Reyes Martinez tells the paper that this "very important" measure lets workers defend their rights and express grievances.

Trabajadores didn't give details Monday on how many workers have joined unions.

President Raul Castro has set in motion changes to stimulate Cuba's struggling economy.

While officials have said private workers could join pre-existing unions, this is the first report of such activity.