[Marxism] Cuba to abandon wage caps

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jun 12 07:17:08 MDT 2008

Cuba to abandon wage caps

     * Lee Glendinning and agencies
     * guardian.co.uk,
     * Thursday June 12 2008

Cuba is to abandon egalitarian salaries after decades of government 
control in a bid to improve the nation's productivity, a senior 
government official has revealed.

It is thought that an end to the capped wages set up by Fidel Castro in 
1959 could spark the beginnings of a new middle class in Cuba.

In an interview published in Granma, the Communist party's daily 
newspaper the minister for labour and social security, Carlos Mateu, 
said the current system gave employees little incentive to excel because 
everyone earned the same regardless of how much work they put in.

Many government-run companies had already stopped caps on salaries and 
the rest must do so by August, Mateu said.

"This salary system should be seen as a tool to help obtain better 
results in output and services," Mateu said.

"Generally there has been a tendency for people to earn the same, and 
that egalitarianism is not helpful.

"That is something that we have to fix ... because if it is harmful to 
pay workers less than they deserve, it also is harmful to pay them what 
they have not earned," he added.

He said that the new compensation system fits with the mantra of 
"socialist distribution" mentioned regularly by new President Raul 
Castro: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his work."

For years in Cuba, jobs as varied as farm workers and doctors only had a 
difference in their wages of the equivalent of a few US dollars a month. 
The average monthly wage in Cuba is around $20 (£10) leaving many Cubans 
struggling to make ends meet.

Details of the new system have not been specified as yet and it remains 
unclear if officials plan to pay higher regular salaries for better 
workers, or if they would just receive bonuses for good performance.

Lizette Fernandez, a former dissident who campaigned for a change in 
Cuba's dual currency system until she moved to Florida last year told 
the Miami Herald: "I think of all the changes made so far, this one is 
the most important.

"If you worked in an office in Cuba, you often got paid the same as the 
person who cleaned the office. Slow and lazy people got the same or even 
more, because the bosses got their jobs through political connections 
and didn't do any work."

In real terms, she added, the change could mean as little as 50 cents.

"Fifty cents may not sound like a lot, but at the end of the month, it's 
the difference between being able to buy one bar of soap and two bars of 
soap," she said.

"This change offers hope that they will increase salaries even more."

Raul Castro, 77, who came to power officially in February taking the 
place of his older brother Fidel, 81, when his ailing health finally 
became too much, has made significant changes allowing Cubans for the 
first time to buy their own mobile phones, computers and spend nights in 

Some of his policies are still at issue, including opening the country 
to private enterprise and the freedom for Cubans to travel abroad.

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