Head of Egyptian industry group backs LE700 minimum wage

Marwa Hussein, Tuesday 25 Oct 2011

Galal El-Zorba expresses support for floated figure, claiming workers in the private sector already earn equivalent wages

Egypt money
LE700 is a fair wage, says head of Egypt's industry federation (Photo: Sarah Raslan)

The head of the Federation of Egyptian Industries said he believes fixing a minimum wage is fair and the proposed monthly rate of LE700 (US$120) for the private sector is acceptable.

"The private sector is fine with this figure -- most of the companies in the private sector don’t pay less. We are talking here about new workers," said Galal El-Zorba during a press conference on Tuesday.
"It is the government who doesn't know how to implement [the minimum wage]." 
Workers at various privately owned firms, however, say they earn substantially less than the proposed figure.
A minimum monthly wage of LE700 was set for public sector and government workers in July and the initiative has now been broadened to include the private sector.
Many have raised concerns over how the private sector will be enforce the new wage. There have been reports that the public sector has still not properly implemented the changes despite their official adoption in July.
The government has said it may also fix an upper wage limit for the public sector equivalent to 36 times the minimum wage.
Some activists have called for a maximum wage in the private sector, an idea strongly resisted by business heads and commentators. 
Speaking on Tuesday, El-Zorba said he did not approve the fixing of a maximum wage for either private or public sectors. 
"I never heard about a maximum wage in the private sector before. I believe that a maximum wage should not be fixed for the public sector," El-Zorba said. 
Asked about Telecom Egypt, where high-level officials in a public company are paid as private employees, leading to some salaries reportedly in excess of LE1.5 million, El-Zorba said he didn't believe the figures were correct. 
He added that high-paid management would likely be paid even greater wages working for a company fully in the private sector.
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