Jimmy Roque Martinez
HAVANA TIMES – A much-announced wage increase will reach the pockets of Cuban health professionals this coming January, sources that prefer to remain anonymous told HT. There had been talk of this for about a year.
The opinions surrounding this rumor have been quite varied. Some didn’t believe it. Others thought it could happen, but that the salary increase would be next to insignificant. A few optimists not only believed the news to be true but were also convinced it would be a considerable wage increase.
The news gained some impetus this past Monday, as the payroll adjustments in the country’s health centers have begun. The wage increase is imminent and has been confirmed by at least two health sector officials to Havana Times.
One of the sources reported that the Ministry of Health hasn’t yet announced how much salaries will be raised by (apparently, it won’t be the same amount for everyone).
The adjustments will be made on the basis of the wage scale, beginning with medical doctors, who are to receive a 100 percent basic wage increase.
The salaries health professionals are to be paid for the month of December in January will reportedly already include the raise.
The news has been very well received by workers in the sector who, like education professionals, have practically no other income beyond their salaries (i.e. opportunities to misappropriate State resources or receive incentives). It is hoped a wage increase will also be seen for teachers in the not so far off future.
“It isn’t much, because, in addition to food, one has to buy other things, like soap and detergent, but it’s better than nothing,” a hospital technician stated. A janitor said that “it’s very positive and I’m very happy, but they’re going to expect more of us now.”
A doctor commented she thought it was a very encouraging development and that the salaries of Cuban health professionals working in missions in Venezuela had also been raised. “We’re heading in the right direction,” she stressed.
It is also rumored that the salaries of Cuban doctors working in the South American nation will get an additional 100 Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC), the so-called “frozen account.”
According to figures just presented to the Cuban parliament, spending in State subsidized sectors will experience a 2 percent increase in 2014, 22 percent of which will be accounted for by increased spending in public health. Most probably, this increase in State spending is related to the current wage reform.
That said, salaries will continue to be wholly inadequate in terms of satisfying the basic needs of the average Cuban, as the prices of basic products, particularly food, continue to rise at a rate higher than that of wages.
It is worth recalling that the medical services Cuba has been offering abroad have brought in large sums of money into the country and that, in view of this, health sector employees have long been demanding better payment for their work.