Egypt faces third revolution unless workers’ demands are met, warns union

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September 25, 2013   //

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Efitu leader and other activists claim government bluff over devalued wage rise as new revolutionary front is organised
By Patrick Kingsley in CairoEgypt may eventually face its third revolution since 2011 if the country’s new government does not meet the demands of its frustrated labour movement, a leading trade unionist has warned.
Egypt’s prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, recently proposed a minimum wage increase for state employees, in what was supposed to be a populist gesture.
But the leader of the Egyptian federation of independent trade unions (Efitu), a group founded during the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, has denounced the move as too little too late.
Government officials have said the wage deal is a generous measure given the country’s dire economic predicament. But workers are furious that the proposed increase – which from 2014 will raise wages from 700 Egyptian pounds (£70) a month to 1,200 – is based on demands made in 2008 and does not take into account the currency’s devaluation.
People are also angry that the increase does not apply to private-sector workers, who form about two-thirds of Egypt’s workforce, and fear the amount may include bonuses, lowering the basic salary.
“I’m warning the government. They have to comply with the workers’ demands,” said Malek Bayoumi, president of Efitu, which was founded in opposition to a decades-old state monopoly on union activity. “It’s not planned yet, but they have to look after the workers, otherwise finally there will be a third revolution – in the factories, in the government, everywhere.”
Other activists fear the wage proposal is a bluff aimed at placating the powerful labour movement for a few months and until the government has finished suppressing Morsi’s Islamist loyalists.
“It’s just to postpone the fight with the workers till January,” …

Source: Desert Herald

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