Words into the Wind / Jeovany Jimenez Vega
Posted on October 18, 2013
By Jeovany Jimenez Vega, M.D.
When I spoke during the discussion of the Draft Law to amend the Labor
Code a couple of weeks ago, I said that our industry (public health)
generates 50% of the GDP of this country; that it represents an income
of between 8 and 10 billion hard-cash dollars every year; that this is a
lot of money, which should be enough to significantly increase the
salary of the sector that produces it; that those who remain here
deserve as much as those who go on work medical missions abroad; that I
will never understand why a prestigious professor of medicine, after
decades of dedication, earns one-third the salary of an office manager
trained for fifteen days.
It's not just that our salary is ridiculous, but that it is particularly
absurd in this country of merciless prices. We have patients who easily
earn three to ten times our salary, and not from self-employment, but
also from the few state jobs that link salary to performance; or simply
through "struggling" — that is, stealing with both hands. It is high
time to put an end to this humiliating situation, because if there
exists today in Cuba a sector that is able to increase substantially the
wages of its workers — here we're not talking about the ridiculous two
pesos per hour for nighttime work — it's public health. I said all this,
a couple of weeks ago, when I was able to speak.
My specific proposal? A basic monthly salary for a recent graduate of
800 Cuban pesos (roughly $33 US), increasing by 150 pesos every two
years up to, for example, 1,500 pesos eight or ten years after
graduation; 100 pesos per each medical shift at multi-specialty and
primary care clinics, and between 150 and 200 pesos in hospice
facilities depending on the workload assumed by each specialty, never
less than 5 pesos an hour for night duty, 200 pesos for biohazard risk,
200 for administrative positions and teachers — it could be higher for
provincial or ministerial positions; 250 for certified masters and 500
per specialty completed. And finally, it would be fair to give longevity
pay after fifteen years of work at 100 pesos every five years (100 after
the first 15 years, 200 after 20, 300 after 25 and so on) and finally a
retirement that does not force those who served their people for decades
to live on a little less than a beggar would get.
Of course, this is my humble opinion, launched into the ether from the
perspective of the sufferer, not remotely like that of an experienced
economist. But something convinces me that an industry generating so
much money could handle it comfortably. They've already made a timid
gesture with sports, so why not with the sector that generates similar
wealth, which provides reasonable assurances that it will continue, and
which is showcased to the world as a success story?
Those who make these decisions should take into account that these are
professionals who know that, if they approved a monthly salary like this
(I'm talking about 150 U.S. Dollars), it would still be less than they
could earn abroad for a few hours of work under circumstances
qualitatively very different, despite which — I venture to guarantee —
in most cases they would not want to abandon their country. I remains to
be seen if the words spoken in meetings all across this country will
fall on deaf ears, if it will do any good to throw this bottle into the
sea, to throw these crazy words into the wind.
Translated by Tomás A
17 October 2013
Source: "Words into the Wind / Jeovany Jimenez Vega | Translating Cuba"