I promise to resolve the wage crisis, says head of parliament economic committee

Bassem Abo Alabass, Monday 3 Jan 2011

The newly appointed member of parliament and distinguished economist, Samir Radwan, promises a fair wage for Egyptians

Samir Radwan
Economist Samir Radwan, head of Parliament's Economy Committee

Resolving the minimum wage crisis is considered the top priority on the agenda of parliament’s economic committee, its head, Samir Radwan, told Ahram Online.

“It will be over soon and workers will hear very good news,” added Radwan.

The government announced in October 2010 that it plans to increase the minimum wage to LE400 ($70) per month. Radwan views this sum as below the poverty line, which he calculates at $115.

Radwan, who spent nearly 30 years researching poverty and developing economies at the International Labor Organization, gave the example of South Africa to show the importance of setting a fair minimum wage. When Nelson Mandela took the reins of power, he invited a group of Egyptian economic analysts to resolve the crisis of continuous workers protests. “Give me an alternative to the free beer we are currently distributing, he told us." The delegation suggested defining a minimum wage for them. “And it worked,” Radwan says.

This is not enough, however, for the case of Egypt, he adds.

He criticizes emphasis on the minimum wage issue: “All wage policies in Egypt need to be revised,” adding that there are various international criteria to define wages schemes such as the poverty line, prices and labour efficiency.

“Highly qualified labour in Egypt is not fairly paid,” he notes, adding that each calibre should be paid according to a specific scheme.

He concludes by drawing on an example from another story to make the headlines in Egypt.

“The recently caught Egyptian spy for Israel looked for income by this illegitimate way because he had no local access to improve his earnings.”

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