Activists launch campaign for Egyptian workers demands

Ahram Online, Saturday 3 Aug 2013

Setting a wages ceiling and baseline, and rights to organise in free unions, are among Egyptian workers' main demands, as set out in a new campaign recently launched

Egyptian workers
File photo: Banner reads "A salary that lasts all month", as Egyptian workers demonstrate for better wages (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Egyptian labour activists launched a campaign last week seeking demands awaited from the government since the uprisings of 25 January 2011, reported state-owned Al-Ahram daily newspaper Saturday.

The campaign, which hails from Egypt’s Revolutionary Socialists movement and the Egyptian Federation for Independent Trade Unions, has listed 16 main demands shared by workers nationwide to be met by the regime.

On the list are the immediate issuing of the Syndicate Freedom Law, and setting a monthly minimum wage at LE2000 (roughly $286).

Since the January uprising in 2011, successive interim governments have promised wage caps to meet one of the key demands of the revolution — social justice.

In June 2011, Egypt's then transitional government granted public servants a monthly minimum wage of LE700 ($120).

The minimum wage was supposed to come into effect July 2011, the beginning of the 2011-2012 financial year, but it was only implemented for government employees on permanent contracts.

The labour campaign demands that the maximum wage be no more 15 times the minimum, and that any law incriminating protests and sit-ins be cancelled.

The halt in ratification of the Syndicate Freedom Law pushed the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in June to blacklist Egypt on a short-term basis, citing the government violations of workers’ freedom standards.

Egypt’s Cabinet approved the Syndicate Freedom Law in 2011, but the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, then the ruling authority, failed to sign onto it.

According to a recent report by the International Development Centre, an Egyptian rights organisation, Egypt has been witnessing a sharp spike in labour and other social protests, with 1,354 protests recorded in March alone compared to 864 protests during the previous month. This means an average of 44 protests per day, or 1.8 protests every hour.

The report also states that protests were held by 40 different social categories, with most being staged by politically unaffiliated individuals.  

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