‘Not the time for protests,’ Egypt’s PM says ahead of tax employee demonstrations

Ahram Online , Sunday 6 Sep 2015

The tax employees are set to protest a new civil service law

Tax and custom workers protest
File photo: Tax and custom workers protest against a new law seeking to reform the country’s mammoth civil service, calling it unfair and unconstitutional, in Cairo, Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 (AP)

Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said Saturday night that "we are not in a time of strikes or sit-ins but we are in a time of building a state," hours before tax employees nationwide are scheduled to protest a new civil service law on 3pm Sunday.

The civil service law, passed last March shortly before Egypt's International Economic Conference, aims to reform Egypt’s administrative apparatus in order to encourage investments by curbing bureaucratic inefficiencies and streamlining hiring practices and wage-structures in government institutions.

According to the new law, basic salaries would constitute 80 percent of overall wages in all government institutions as opposed to the older unit-by-unit system of determination, while bonuses, traditionally dependent on seniority, would be calculated based on performance.

The law applies to the seven million employees of government institutions in Egypt.

The employees are demanding either that the law be repealed or that they become an independent entity exempted from the law.

State-owned companies and independent economic entities are excluded from the law.

The prime minister, in a phone call with CBC channel's Houna Al-Asema show, stated that the civil service law aims to benefit "the people, the state, the good of society, and to discover youth and [talents]."

Tax authority employees are planning local protests on Sunday at authority offices in governorates around the country at 3pm.

A 25-year tax inspector veteran at the Tax Authority in Cairo told Ahram Online, "we will be protesting today after work to send the government a warning that we are serious about our demands."

In early August, hundreds of mostly tax authority employees gathered in front of the Journalists' Syndicate to protest the law.

The employees met with Mahlab but negotiations met an impasse.

On Saturday, dozens of employees of the Egyptian national authority for social security demonstrated against the law.

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