Egyptian Labor Protest to Raise Minimum Wage

“Hundreds of workers have showed up in order to demonstrate, calling for raising the national minimum wage, which remains unchanged from 1984 and stands at 35 Egyptian pounds [$7 per month], which is bloody pathetic to be honest.  And workers today are calling for raising it to 1,200 Egyptian pounds, which is a very reasonable figure, with today’s prices at least. . . .  Every day there is a labor protest coming in to demonstrate in front of the parliament.  And they don’t leave, they stage a sit-in, and that can last for even two or three weeks.  When they leave, they are usually replaced by another group of workers who show up to take their place and raise similar demands.  And workers here, they might be a few hundreds, but they are representatives of a much bigger critical mass, since we have here Mahalla strike leaders, those who led a strike at the biggest industrial textile mill in the Middle East with 24,000 workers as a labor force.  We have representatives form the Union of Tax Collectors.  Those represent at least around 40,000 civil servants across the country, and they have managed to establish the country’s first independent trade union in half a century.  We have others from Helwan, we have autoworkers, we have workers from the oil industry here.  They are all representatives.  And they are here, they are chanting against the president, chanting against the prime minister, which shows you that the level of fear, this wall of fear, has basically collapsed.” — Hossam el-Hamalawy

The text above is an edited partial transcript of the video.  See, also, Cam McGrath, “EGYPT: Minimum Wage Not Enough” (IPS, 4 February 2010); “Hundreds of Egyptian Workers Demonstrate for Minimum Wage” (Al-Masry Al-Youm, 3 April 2010); and Sallie Pisch, “Egypt Workers Protest, Demand Increase in Minimum Wage” (Bikya Masr, 4 April 2010).

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