Cuba announces new increases in wages and Social Security

Campaign News | Thursday, 24 November 2005

More than 3 million workers to benefit

Havana, 22 November: MORE than three million Cubans are to benefit from new wage increases announced by the government as a continuation of the policy of social benefits.

A statement issued on November 22 by the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security explains that during the wage reform process, more than 10,000 pay scales for existing job descriptions were reviewed, and redesigned as 4,472 broad-profile descriptions.

The decision goes into effect with wage payments for December, and benefits 2,214,213 workers at an annual cost of 1,259,042,204 pesos and an average increase of 43 pesos per worker.

Therefore, wage recovery is continuing under the motto of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his labor,” the decree states.

Thus, a bonus of 80 pesos per month is established for those who attain the category of master’s degree holder and 150 pesos for those who obtain doctorates. Others benefiting are those working under the enterprise improvement system.

As an encouragement for attaining higher qualifications and quality work, a bonus of 30 pesos per month has been fixed for those workers who earn their certification as masters of their trade.

At the same time, 1, 58,963 workers who previously benefited from the increased basic minimum wage are to receive another increment.

Wage increases are also going into effect for state central administration employees and those of the People’s Power authorities; i.e., municipal and provincial governments.

The annual cost of the new measures, together with increases in the minimum wage and wage increases in the health and education sectors previously implemented, has now gone up to 2,848,289,618 pesos.

That figure represents a 21% increase compared to the budget of 13.554 million pesos for wages set for the present year of 2005.

If the 2005 wage increases are added to increased Social Security, pension and Social Assistance payments, the figure goes up by an additional 4.260 million pesos - 25.8% more in one year than what Cuban families were previously receiving through these payments.

The official statement emphasizes that these increases are being implemented with a revalued national currency (the peso), with greater purchasing power and without modifying the relationship between the peso and the convertible peso.

Seven months ago, Cuba increased Social Security payments for retirees and pension recipients who were receiving lower amounts, and during this year, the government has raised wages, Social Security payments, pensions and Social Assistance payments by 4.260 million pesos, which benefits more than 5 million citizens.

On this occasion, for the 762,433 Social Security and pension recipients who were receiving the financial aid of 150 pesos, that amount has gone up to 164 pesos.

Likewise, for the 443,837 Social Security and pension recipients who were receiving 190 pesos, that amount has gone up to 202 pesos.

These increases benefit 1,206,270 lower-income retirees and pension recipients, and have an annual cost of 192,001,272 pesos.

All households that receive Social Assistance payments will receive 10 additional pesos; that increase will benefit 476,512 people, with an annual cost of 30,844,560 pesos, and raises minimum assistance payments to 122 pesos.

As Cuban President Fidel Castro recently stated, “Cuba is advancing in an accelerated manner to reduce inequalities and injustices that can still be seen in the wake of the so-called Special Period.

“We aspire for all citizens to make a living from their work and their pensions, because we cannot forget about our working class, which has given so much to Cuba during these hard years.”

Electricity prices rise for the richest

Havana 23 November: THE Cuban government has announced a set of measures affecting electricity rates, wage increases and Social Security and Social Assistance payments, in a decree signed by President Fidel Castro issued on November 22.

The document informs that for monthly consumption of the first 100 kilowatt-hours, the current highly-subsidized price of just 9 centavos per kilowatt-hour remains.

The new decree, which constitutes “the first legal measure in the vital and decisive fight to save energy” - as the document itself says - indicates that for monthly consumption of more than 100 kilowatt-hours and up to 150, the cost goes up to 20 to 30 centavos per kilowatt-hour.

From 150 kilowatt-watt hours and up to 200, the rate increases to 20 to 40 centavos per kilowatt-hour/additional hour.

From more than 200 kilowatt-hours and up to 250, it is 20 to 60 centavos per kilowatt-hour.

For more than 250 kilowatt-hours and up to 300, it is 20 to 80 centavos per kilowatt-hour.

And for consumption of more than 300 kilowatt-hours, it goes up to 30 centavos to 1 peso and 30 centavos per kilowatt-hour for the additional consumption.

The decree goes into effect beginning with consumption registered during the month of December and the new rates will be charged beginning this coming January.

In addition, the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, in unison with this decree, will apply the new wage increases and social security and assistance payments.

The increase in electricity rates takes into account the higher price of $50-plus per barrel of oil.

It also takes into account the fact that, after the disintegration of the socialist bloc and the Soviet Union in late 1991, the island entered the so-called Special Period when it was no longer receiving 14 million tons of oil per year.

Moreover, the greatest oil consumption in Cuba is that used for electricity generation, and in recent years, when those costs increased several times, electricity rates remained the same, the decree notes.

Likewise, it warns that the world’s proven and probable oil and gas reserves are inexorably running out, while the pace of consumption and environmental pollution are growing, at the same time as climactic changes are threatening life on Earth.

The decree states that a lack of concern on the part of Cuban citizens with respect to electricity consumption is evident, given the negligible current prices of that service.

The Cuban state also takes note of the income inequalities among those who receive relatively low pensions and wages and those who are benefiting from a large monetary income derived from speculation, misappropriation of resources and other forms of illicit self-enrichment.

The government believes that the new electricity rates will encourage those citizens who consume little energy and conserve it, and will discourage excessive consumption by those who waste it.

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