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Egypt wages council votes to raise minimum pay

The council would meet next week to discuss implementation-says official.

October 29, 2010 10:48 by



Egypt’s pay watchdog recommended a more than ten-fold hike to the country’s minimum wage and though legislators have snubbed earlier decrees, Thursday’s comes before parliamentary elections in which pay is a hot topic.

The National Pay Council decided the minimum monthly wage should rise to 400 Egyptian pounds ($69) from its current level around 35 pounds, the Ministry of Economic Development said in a statement.

With food prices rising at an annual rate of about 22 percent in the past 12 months or so, analysts have been watching to see if a spate of recent labour and other protests gain momentum before parliamentary elections next month.

The ministry statement said the council had in 2008 decided to raise minimum pay to 250-300 pounds a month.

Khaled Ali, the head of the Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights, said that 2008 decision was not implemented and said the basic wage in law remains at the 1984 figure of 35 pounds a month. Other analysts made similar comments.

A ministry official said the council would meet next week to discuss implementation.

Analyst Ahmed Naggar said the council was treated as an advisory body by the government and any decision would still need to be passed by parliament.

Labourers have staged several protests in recent months demanding an increase in the minimum wage. Workers had been calling for an increase to 1,200 pounds. Though the minimum wage is set at 35 pounds, workers have received more in practice.

For many in Egypt, where U.N. figures put gross domestic product per capita at $1,780, the call for political change may be secondary to more basic demands for better income and jobs.

The protests are particularly sensitive ahead of a parliamentary vote in November and presidential election next year, which is being watched closely to see if President Hosni Mubarak, 82 and in power since 1981, runs again.

He has no designated successor. If he does not run, many Egyptians believe he will either be followed by his 46-year-old son Gamal or an establishment candidate with a military background.

(Reporting by Sarah Mikhail; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)



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