Egypt Independent

Court: Govt obliged to set minimum wage

Egypt’s Administrative Court on Tuesday ruled that the government must set a minimum wage in line with rising prices of basic commodities.

The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights had filed a lawsuit with the court against the president and the prime minister, requesting that they narrow the gap between wages and soaring prices. The center provided the court with numerous economic studies to support their request.

Calls for a minimum wage increase have also been supported by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

"The Egyptian government is responsible before the ILO and the international community to raise the minimum wage and improve living conditions for workers in accordance with international agreements that it has signed," said Dorothea Schmidt, an economist at the ILO Employment Trends Unit, at a recent Cairo workshop held by the organization. "Failing to do so will compel us to submit a report to all member states to take action against Egypt."

Schmidt also called on the Egyptian government to implement a national unemployment reduction program that targets youth in particular. "23 percent of Egyptian youths are unemployed," Schmidt said, adding that unemployment continues to rise. "This rate needs to be reduced to 15 percent."

"The Egyptian economy is not expected to achieve the required growth rate of 20 percent in the coming two decades, and foreign investment will not be enough to offset unemployment," she added.

Schmidt noted that Egypt needs LE3.4 billion every year in order to provide 3.1 million job opportunities in the coming five years, explaining that the national program is an international plan that the Egyptian ministries of manpower, solidarity, education and agriculture would implement.

"25 percent of university graduates in Egypt are jobless," she said, pointing out that the ILO had a program that would provide training courses for more than a million graduates. "The program was dropped by the Egyptian government for two years without plausible reason," Schmidt explained.

Mohamed Tarabolsy of the ILO Cairo office declined to answer questions at the workshop on freedom and active representation of Egyptian unions.

Member of the Egyptian Supreme Council for Wages Abdel Fattah el-Gebaly, for his part, said the private sector did not reach an agreement with the state-run Egyptian Trade Union Federation on a minimum wage for private-sector workers. He did add that the government will set an appropriate minimum wage for the public sector.

A coalition of labor groups and NGOs will hold a demonstration on Saturday, 3 April at 11am in front of the Egyptian parliament to demand that the national minimum wage be raised to LE1200 per month.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.