[Marxism] GRANMA: Cuba Has New Pay Incentive System

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Fri Jun 13 07:06:58 MDT 2008

Walter posted:

> June 11, 2008

> There has been a tendency in Cuba for everyone to earn the same
> salary, a type of egalitarianism that is not advisable, said Mateu
> Pereira. ...Mateu Pereira said the new pay system should be seen as a tool
> to
> help obtain increased productivity...
Thanks, Walter. Do you have any more detailed information (or personal
observations) about the current pay system and some of my questions which

Clearly "everyone does not earn the same salary", and the official's
reference to a "tendency for everyone" to do so is a reference to pay
differentials between different occupational groups, eg. physician versus
bus driver, which are are now presumed to be too narrow.

Has Cuba been experiencing difficulty attracting young people into skilled
professional and managerial jobs, or is there some evidence of a "brain
drain" out of the country, despite the legal prohibitions against Cubans
emigrating to better paying jobs abroad? Can this move to widen
differentials be seen as part of Cuba's preparations for a more "open"
economy, a "Chinese  turn", which would necessarily make it easier for
Cubans to study, work, and travel abroad and for foreign companies to
operate in Cuba - in which case, the authorities would be anticipating a
need to both recruit and retain skilled Cubans in competition with private
employers at home and overseas?

On what basis have the Cubans concluded that productivity in less skilled
occupations in labour-intensive industries is too low? Complaints about
workers on construction sites, retail outlets, and government offices
standing around with little to do used to be commonplace in the fSU, largely
because the state was committed to full employment which proved
unsustainable in the context of the capitalist world economy. Are such
complaints heard today in Cuba, and has that been your impression? Are there
piecework systems in place today? Do Cuban analysts and officials really
believe that the problem is other than a low level of capital investment in
these sectors, and that incentives and piecework will not do much to resolve
the probem of low productivity? Or again, is this a prelude to the
establishment of Chinese- and Mexican-style "special enterprise zones" which
require sweated labour and the ability to dismiss workers who fail to meet
their quotas?

This is how I'm reading the tea leaves at any rate. If this is the direction
the Cubans are going in, it's consistent with the experience of all the
other formerly anticapitalist countries, notably the USSR and China, who
could not overcome the pressures on them of a world economy led by the more
developed capitalist powers. I think it has much less to do with the
character of the regime or the fine points of Marxist doctrine, which seems
to have occupied most of the discussion around this question on the list.
Unfortunately, the Bolsheviks were quite prescient in understanding that
unless socialist revolutions occured in the more advanced capitalist
countries, the revolutions on the "periphery" could not last.

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