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Raul Castro ends egalitarian wages

Latest update : 2008-06-12

In an attempt to boost "productivity," Cuban president Raul Castro has made a landmark announcement that he would put an end to the practice of uniform salary distribution, whereby salaries for all ranks differed little from the mean.

In a new reform move, communist Cuba announced Wednesday it was scrapping salary caps long meant to underscore egalitarianism but which President Raul Castro's government says hurt productivity.
  
Most Cubans, in an economy controlled by the government, earn the equivalent of 17 dollars a month in Cuban pesos, struggling to make it to the end of the month when many foods, clothing and personal care goods are sold only in government-run hard-currency stores.
  
For years the pay for street sweepers and brain surgeons has been separated by just a few dollars a month, until a new resolution adopted in February but explained to the Cuban people on Wednesday.
  
"This (new) salary system should be seen as a tool to help obtain better results in output and services," deputy labor and social security minister Carlos Mateu told the Communist Party daily Granma, noting that employers have until August to implement the changes.
  
The eye-opening Granma report said "the socialist principle of distribution will be achieved wherein everyone earns in accordance with his contribution, in other words, pay in accordance with quality and quantity."
  
"Generally," the paper quoted Mateu as saying, "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.
  
The new wage policy is the latest unveiled by the government of Raul Castro following changes in how decisions are made regarding land redistribution and decentralized farming.
  
Raul Castro, who officially took office on February 24, has been de facto ruler since late July 2006 when his older brother Fidel, 81, was sidelined with serious health problems.
  
Since February Raul Castro, 77, has allowed Cubans to buy computers, own mobile telephones, rent cars and spend nights in hotels previously only accessible to foreigners -- if they can afford such luxuries.
  
Castro has also implemented reforms that give farmers better pay and more flexibility to buy farming equipment, a move designed to lessen the impact of the world food crisis.
  
He has commuted 30 death sentences, released some political prisoners, and signed human rights accords. Television has fewer taboos imposed, and even Granma, the venerable Communist Party mouthpiece, has taken to publishing grievances from residents.
  
But there are no indications that Castro will lessen the Communist Party's total grip on power, and the list of wanted changes remains long. They include opening the country to private enterprise, freedom to travel abroad, and an end to the double-currency system.
  
Castro's reforms have been welcomed by many Latin Americans, but Cuba's greatest foe, the United States, has dismissed them as "cosmetic."

Date created : 2008-06-12

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