Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Layoff time?

Today's Granma runs a one-paragraph Fidel quote from 1986 about the error of “underutilizing human resources,” something that “teaches people not to work, teaches them to do among three men what one can do.”

Sounds like a warning of layoffs to come, but the same paper has an article on the reorganization of state enterprises in the agriculture sector.

The reorganization of the agriculture bureaucracy has been the lagging part of recent agriculture reforms – the early steps were the land grants made to more than 80,000 farmers and cooperatives and significant increases in prices paid to producers.

Today’s article says that in pilot programs in Havana, the bureaucracy is slimming down. It estimates that 26 percent of workers in the state sector of agriculture – 89,000 workers – constitute “an excess of unproductive personnel.”

Paper-pushers are being moved to jobs that produce goods and services. An evaluation of 17 agriculture ministry enterprises yielded an estimate that it is possible to cut average executive staff from 57 per enterprise to 26, a matter of “adjusting to realities” the “payrolls and structures that have been static since the 1980’s.” The article mentions an enterprise in Artemisa where staff has been cut from 91 to 15, pay is now strictly tied to output, and base pay has nearly doubled to more than 600 pesos per month.

My guess is that rather than a warning about layoffs, these articles are a signal to farm sector workers in the rest of Cuba that these changes are coming, and they should prepare.

17 comments:

Fantomas said...

Always looking to the past. where is the present thinking and the vision of the future

que malos son los comunistas

Anonymous said...

Let's see no food, no jobs, no freedom, ummm? What's left? To emulate Gen.Ochoa and to dedicate one's last thought to Fidel Castro!

Vecino de NF

Anonymous said...

"No food, no jobs, no freedom," and the masses still aren't dissatisfied enough to foment a Revolution of their own. Oh, Cuba, oh, Cuba, what a heart-breaker you became.

Santi

6p00e5507444c78834 said...

After reading the two excerpts from Fidel's old speeches Monday and Tuesday in Granma, I hazard this guess: unproductive bureaucrats will be reassigned to farm or factory jobs that will be more productive than pushing pencils or shuffling papers.

Anonymous said...

Forget the Chinese model! Forget goulash socialism! Forget North Korean juche!

Let's go directly to Pol Pot's vision of paradise! Everyone to the fields! Check for smooth hands to purify the ranks!

Where in heavens are the ideological censors of the Central Committee? This is what happens when the leadership is sclerotic both in physical and mental terms.

Vecino de NF

leftside said...

Relax Vecino, we are talking about (possibly, in some cases where warranted) cutting needless bureaucratic positions, unless they can show they are actually responsible for producing something of value. In most of the world, that is called progress. But in your mind, it is worth equating to Pol Pot and there being no more jobs.

Anonymous said...

Leftside,

Could you please list any economic sectors in Cuba who are currently in need of workers?

Vecino de NF

leftside said...

Umm well, telling you where the open jobs are in Cuba from the US is not an easy (or particularly relevant) endeavor. But 1,200 jobs were announced in the Petrochemistry industry this morning in Prensa Latina, the result of Venezuelan investment in Cinefuegos.

leftside said...

Reading the Granma pieces more closely, I see that they are talking about a total reorg. of the State-owned farm workforce. The dissoluton of (usually larger) State-owned farms, in order for them to be divided into smaller, local, cooperatively-owned 'fincas'. Pay would go from being basically fixed to based wholly on what is produced. Fewer "functionaries" telling people what to do and more specialists and technicians offering practical help - and probably getting their hands dirty. All seems quite sensible, given the decline of the Soviet-inspired large mechanized approach and strategic decision to value production over equal distribution.

The bigger picture is that the State is well on their way to completely re-defining their role in the production and distribution of food. While none of the reforms resemble neo-liberalism or capitalist policies, the overall trajectory is less state control. How long before anyone respectable is able to recognize this increasingly obvious fact in public (ie. the media or policymakers)?

Anonymous said...

"...the overall trajectory is less state control."

Socialism is the intermediate phase between capitalism and capitalism.

What a frigging waste of 50 years, and three generations!

Vecino de NF

Anonymous said...

It is always amusing to read Granma's articles based on Fidel Castro's old speeches. The article cited is no different and it begs the question that if Fidel Castro was aware of the problems of Cuban agriculture in 1986 why didn't he do anything about it in the intervening years? After all he was in charge of the Cuban government, and the Cuban government was in charge of every detail in Cuba including Cuban agriculture.

It is as if the quarterback tries to explain his mistakes with 20/20 restrospective vision forgetting that it was his plays, his fumbles, his mistakes, and his actions that lost the game for his team. This would be laughable if it wasn't for the human costs!

Vecino de NF

leftside said...

Socialism is not about State control as an ends. It is about the people taking control of their own destiny and the State ensuring a basic level of fairness. As I said, none of the reforms can be labeled a move towards capitalism. They are all empowering people... except the ration book changes. Those I worry about.

Anonymous said...

Leftside,

If "Socialism is not about State control as an ends", then how comes every socialist state since the Bolsheviks' takeover of the Russian Revolution had as its modus operandi state control of the people and the means of production? Also please comment on Fidel Castro's malfeasance of his government role when he admits to the problems and then he does not nothing to correct them!

Vecino de NF

leftside said...

State control of the means of production is necessary to fairly distribute the resources to the people - to make sure nickel, oil, tobacco, etc. benefits everyone - not just fortunate foreigners who owned most everything of value before the Revolution.

Fidel Castro identified many mistakes of the Revolution. Over-valuing employment to the detriment of productivity is a problem, but not nearly one like having 18% real unemployment (like California does now).

Anonymous said...

Leftside, do you really believe all that you say?

Anonymous said...

Leftside,

The question was not whether Fidel Castro identified many mistakes of the Revolution. It is what has he done to correct them? The productivity question that was quoted in Granma dated to 1986. He ran the Cuban government for about 20 years after that and yet productivity was an issue all these years.

As far as the theory of the "State control of the means of production " goes, the question is who holds the State accountable. In the case of Cuba who holds Fidel Castro and Raul Castro accountable when they have legislated that criticism of their work is considered a crime?

Vecino de NF

leftside said...

The question of how to both increase productivity, while also ensuring fairness, equality and a change of consciousness away from individual consumerism to collective solidarity is one of the biggest challenges of any socialist revolution. I don't think anyone in Cuba would say they have solved the productivity portion of it. Just as no serious person in the West would claim capitalism has come anywhere near ensuring a basic level of fairness and justice in economic relations.