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Decision on minimum wage for private sector riding on two issues, says manpower minister

The issue of a variable minimum wage dependent on firm size and geographical location is among those still to be finalised by the governemnt

Fouad Mansour, Wednesday 22 Jun 2011
Ahmed El-Boraie
Egypt's labor minister Ahmed El-Boraie

Egypt's minister of manpower stated Tuesday that a final decision on the minimum wage rate for the private sector is pending but that the rate is likely to vary depending on the size and location of each firm.

Speaking at the Cairo Business Forum, hosted by IMD business school, Ahmed El-Boraie said that he has met with many business organisations and that there is a general consensus among businesses that LE700 is a fair minimum rate for the private sector.

The minister added that “there are, however, two questions not yet agreed upon. The first is can a country have more than one minimum wage depending on different geographic locations, should Alexandria workers take the same minimum as those in Upper Egypt where the cost of living is low? The second question is whether we should impose a minimum wage on small and micro enterprises employing less than 10 workers.”

The minister added that he will consult experts from the International Labour Organisation in Cairo to discuss the experience of other countries.

Officials have long talked of revising Egypt's minimum wage, even before the January 25 uprising.

Earlier in June, Egypt’s cabinet approved a LE700 minimum wage for government workers, a long anticipated decision that is expected to benefit 1.9 million Egyptians.

The situation for the public sector seems less clear, with the Higher Council for Wages assigned to determine the rate.

“The Higher Council for Wages is open to all suggestions and ideas from all concerned parties to decide upon the issue,” El-Boraie stated at an earlier meeting, indicating that the government’s role is merely to mediate between the labour force and businessmen.

The Ministry of Manpower, however, has not set a time frame in place for implementing the pay rate. El-Boraie hinted on 7 June that it would be soon.

Enforcing the rate on the private sector looks set to be the government’s greatest challenge, although it has not yet revealed how it plans to handle the matter.

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