- Life Style
President of the state-run Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) Hussein Megawer announced he was negotiating with the government to push the national minimum to LE900 per month. The announcement came during his meeting on Wednesday with a delegation from the US State Department's Labor Commission.
Egypt's national minimum wage remains unchanged since 1984, and stands at LE35 a month.
Megawer told the delegation that workers in Egypt had been impacted by the free market policies carried out by the government in recent years. "The spinning and weaving industry in particular has been affected by Egypt's program of economic reform," he said. Megawer is a leading member in the ruling National Democratic Party, which devised those policies.
He went on to point out the ETUF was implementing a "Social Dialogue Program" devised by the International Labor Organization, which is funded by the US government. "We talk to private-sector businessmen in order to make sure they're granting workers all their rights," he said.
The US delegation came to be briefed about labor problems in Egypt, especially in light of the increasing numbers of labor strikes and demonstrations staged in recent years.
Megawer told members of the delegation that the ETUF was looking forward to resuming relations with its US counterpart. "We're opening two vocational schools that will teach students foreign languages in addition to providing technical training," he noted.
Relations between the state-dominated ETUF and international labor unions have been tense in recent years. The ETUF is under fire by local and foreign campaigners who accuse Megawer's union of imposing draconian restrictions on strikes and of toeing government line on labor issues.
The ETUF has also faced the heat of the strikers on several occasions for not lending enough support to industrial actions. In December 2008, the real estate tax collectors declared the country's first independent trade union since 1957, away from Megawer's ETUF. The latter has refused to recognize it and reported its leader, Kamal Abu Eita, to the police.
The real estate tax collectors have announced, together with workers from other sectors, they will be demonstrating this coming 3 April, in front of Cairo's ministerial cabinet headquarters, demanding the national minimum wage to be raised to LE1,200 per month.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.