Thursday, June 12, 2008

Inconvenient truths

After nearly half a century of telling Cubans to work harder but not to expect any “capitalist” monetary rewards in return, the Castro regime has quietly changed its mind. Just like that.

According to an article published by the regime’s official propaganda sheet, Granma, all State enterprises on the island will be allowed to eliminate salary caps from next month.

The change was announced with little fanfare, as you can imagine, by Carlos Mateu, a deputy minister, who said the salary cap system that has been in place since the 1960s was “outdated” and “inconvenient”.

Under the old “socialist” system, introduced by Fidel Castro as a way to build his communist paradise, workers got paid a standard wage by the State regardless of where they worked, how long or how hard.

Needless to say, it has been a total disaster. Just as it was in the old Soviet Empire.

On the other hand, the new payment system will be based on productivity, which means workers who meet their targets will be entitled in theory at least, to a bonus of up to five per cent of their base salary.

Which sounds like a sensible thing to do except for the fact that the extra money will be paid by the State in ordinary Cuban pesos, which are pretty much worthless since with few exceptions, most consumer goods are sold by the State in convertible pesos.

And yes, you need at least 20 to 25 ordinary pesos to buy one convertible peso.

Still, it seems the new system (or at least its intent), will get the big tick from some workers, as you can see from this article in The Sun Sentinel.

A restaurant worker in Old Havana identified only as David - he asked that his full name not be used “for fear of reprisal” - told the paper that the old socialist system imposed by the Castro brothers was, not to put too fine a point on it … a joke.

"There was never any incentive to break my back because in the end you're still paid $15 a month," the 32-year-old said. "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."

So far, there has been no explanation from the regime as to why they have ignored such obvious logic for close to 50 years.


Blogger Vana said...

I would not work for 15 dollars a month, let alone 15 Cuban pesos, that's one of the reasons the revolution is a total failure.

3:33 pm  

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