Work conditions in Egyptian public sector better than private businesses: Report

Ahram Online, Wednesday 8 Oct 2014

More than 90 percent of Egypt's paid workers in the government and public sector have social and health insurance compared to less than a quarter of private sector workers

Workers stand in a factory
Workers stand in a factory (Photo: Reuters)

Only 58 percent of Egyptian employees have a legal contract with their employer, according to a report by Egypt's official statistics body released on Wednesday.

Figures from the labour force survey of 2013, which was released to mark the World Day for Decent Work, show that 99.5 percent of public sector workers have legal contracts.

The ratio falls to 45 percent for workers in the private sector who work in established workplaces, while only 12 percent of private sector workers who work outside an established workplace have any legal contract.

According to state statistic body CAPMAS, only half of Egyptian workers benefit from health insurance and about 60 percent participate in social insurance. 

While the majority of those working in the governmental sector and for businesses that are publicly owned have both health and social insurance, less than quarter of workers in private establishments have health insurance. Figures go down to 1.7 percent for workers who do not work at an established workplace. 

Figures released by CAPMAS in 2012 showed that Egypt's public sector employees continue to be better paid than those working in the private sector.

In response to revolutionary demands for social justice, the government set a minimum wage of LE700 ($98) per month for public workers. In January 2014 it was raised to LE1200 ($169).

At the time, the government said that a minimum wage for the private sector would be put in place soon, but the decision was later reversed due to differences between workers and business representatives in the National Council for Wages.

Only a quarter of Egyptian workers participate in unions, with less than half of workers in government and only 10.4 percent in private establishments and 6.5 percent who work outside established workplaces participating in unions.

Both public sector and private sector workers formed independent unions in the years since the revolution. Several post-revolution governments promised to amend the law to allow the creation of independent trade unions but the process was never finalised. Accordingly the independent unions created in recent years are not legally recognised.  

The state controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation remains the only officially recognised trade union for workers, while 24 official professional syndicates represent different professions.

Near to 70 percent of Egypt's workers are employed on permanent contracts. According to the CAPMAS report, the male labour force participation rate is 73.4 percent, compared to 22.9 percent for women.

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