On reading the announcement that Cuba, long mired in the gloom of communism, is finally taking steps to free up its economy, I was struck by several aspects of the news pertaining to New Zealand.
1. Even Cuba is moving toward privatisation
The Herald Tribune reported:
To soften the blow, it said the government would increase private-sector job opportunities, including allowing more Cubans to become self-employed, forming cooperatives run by employees rather than government administrators and increasing private control of state land, businesses and infrastructure through long-term leases.
A few years ago the World Bank observed: “Privatisation is now so widespread that it is hard to find countries not using the approach: North Korea, Cuba and perhaps Myanmar make up the shrunken universe of the resistant.”
Clearly the World Bank hadn’t noticed New Zealand. Indeed in recent years we’ve gone in the opposite direction with the buy-back of Air New Zealand and the railways and ferries, the establishment of Kiwibank, the renationalisation of ACC, and the Auckland Regional Council’s reversal of the part-privatisation of Ports of Auckland.
As even Cuba moves towards privatisation, why are we waiting? North Korea and Myanmar are dubious company.
2. Even Cuba’s state employees will be paid according to their performance
Instead, Cubans will soon be “paid according to results,” it said, though few details were provided. Castro has said repeatedly he sought to reform the pay system to hold workers accountable for their production, but the changes have been slow in coming.
Teacher unions in New Zealand are loudly demanding a 4% pay rise across the board, and strongly opposed to performance-based pay. Why should bad teachers be paid the same as great teachers?
Unions claim New Zealand teachers are poorly paid in comparison to their counterparts in other OECD countries but David Farrar has correctly made the point that all New Zealanders are poorly paid in comparison to other OECD countries. The solution is increasing productivity, and our overall economic performance, so that all New Zealanders will be better off.
Yesterday’s HoS editorial had some enlightening figures about teacher salaries:
The plain fact is that the average secondary teacher salary is now more than $71,000 or $1365 a week. It has risen since 2000 by more than 45 per cent – almost twice as fast as wages in the public sector as a whole (24 per cent) and the private sector (25.3 per cent).
As the rest of New Zealand belt-tightens, to use the phrase du jour, what gives teachers the right to demand a pay increase when they refuse to be held accountable for their performance? Of course good teachers should be paid well, but rewarding poor performance is ridiculous – even in Cuba.