Cuba wages will be tied to productivity
Salary caps will be eliminated in August
Ray Sanchez | Direct from Havana
5:08 PM EDT, June 11, 2008
Recognizing the egalitarian goal of the island's socialist revolution as
outdated, Cuba is moving ahead with a productivity-based wage system, a
top labor official said Wednesday.
Carlos Mateu, a vice minister of labor and social security, said in an
interview with the Community Party daily Granma that all state
enterprises must eliminate salary caps by next month. Many have already
The move contradicts the idea of an egalitarian society long promoted by
ailing former president Fidel Castro, 81, who was officially replaced by
younger brother Raul in February.
But Cuba's first new leadership in nearly 50 years has acknowledged that
the socialist system was in danger without better economic results in
areas from food production to worker productivity.
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"Either we solve the problems or we ourselves destroy the revolution
that cost us so much blood and sweat," Maria del Carmen Concepcion, a
top Communist Party official, was quoted as saying in the state press
Mateu told Granma that "there has been a tendency for everyone to get
the same, and that egalitarianism is not convenient. That is something
we have to resolve." The vice minister could not be reached for comment
Under a new labor law, Resolution 9/08, ordinary workers will no longer
be subject to wage limits. Workers who meet production quotas can get a
bonus of as much as 5 percent of their base salary. Managers will be
limited to a 30 percent increase for improving worker production.
In Old Havana, a restaurant worker named David welcomed news of the
latest change intended to improve the lives of Cuba's 11.2 million
"There was never any incentive to break my back because in the end
you're still paid $15 a month," said the 32-year-old worker, who asked
that his full name not be used for fear of reprisal. "People came to
work and did what they wanted. They stole food and bottles of wine and
resold them. They came in late, left early. Maybe things will change now."
The average salary of a state worker is about $20 but most Cubans
receive free housing, education, health care and subsidized food.