Labor leaders reject new minimum wage

Activists and labor leaders have rejected statements by Minister of Economic Development Othman Mohamed Othman in which he said the minimum wage will be set at LE280. They criticized the distribution of salaries and accused Othman of manipulating inflation rates.

Kamal Abu Eita, a labor leader, rejected the new minimum wage, saying that an appropriate minimum wage should be set at LE2700. However, he suggested, given the unfair distribution of wages and talk of constraints on the state budget, the minimum wage could be set at LE1200.

Abu Eita added that more than 1000 persons in Egypt receive a monthly salary of more than LE1 million, while thousands of others receive a monthly salary of LE99, such as the workers at the Information Centers for Local Development.

El-Badri Farghali, head of the Federation of Pension Holders, said that the minimum wage announced by the minister is almost as low as the social security pension given to widows. “How can productive workers be equated with pension holders?” he asked.

Farghali said the government favors businessmen and is not interested in workers, in either the private or public sectors.

Khaled Ali, president of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, said that Othman is trying to avoid implementing the judicial ruling on minimum wage.

Ali added that the price of one ton of iron is more expensive in Egypt than in the US and questioned why the global minimum wage is not applied in Egypt.

He said that Othman is ignoring Article 23 of the Constitution, which states that a minimum as well as a maximum wage should be set to minimize the gap between wages.

Abdel Rashid Helal, labor secretary of the leftist Tagammu Party, described Othman’s statements as provocative, saying that the minimum wage stated is equivalent to the pocket money he gives to one of his children to spend in one day.

Helal said the minister’s statements will only complicate the problem further, and he called for imposing taxes on the stock market and restructuring workers’ wages.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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