• Workers
  • April 10, 2010
  • 3 minutes read

Blue and white collar workers have common ground in Egypt

Blue and white collar workers have common ground in Egypt

CARIO: On Tuesday, Egypt’s Investment Minister Mahmoud Mohieldin said Egyptian labor protests were focused on wages and contract demands at specific firms and did not pose a broader risk to local or foreign investment.

The main complaints of both blue-collar and white-collar jobs have been low wages, surging prices and privatization, he said.

“It is not really part of a trend. Workers have their own demands and when some sort of solution for employer and worker is reached these protests do not develop further,” said Mohieldin at a Cairo news conference.

Taxi drivers, nurses, and textile workers in different provinces have shared protests and strikes over the past months. They have all shared complaints over pay and what they said were breached agreements.

Last week, several labor groups, including office employees and factory workers, held a joint protest demanding a higher national minimum wage. Reuters.com said that this could signal broader coordination potentially denting Egypt’s image as an investment friendly country.

“This is not an issue of concern for foreign or local investors in Egypt,” said Mohieldin. He said that complaints were confined to certain issues such as the negative effects of privatization and wages of specific companies and factories.

Most protests have involved workers at specific companies and factories, the protests easily contained. Reuters says that some analysts point to signs of coordinated strikes that may dampen investor interest in the sale of government assets.

Mohieldin blamed the “management of some companies,” for the protests and disgruntle workers.

Egypt is host to 60,000 registered firms, 25 percent of which are foreign and include Arab investors.

The minimum wage has been 35 pounds since 1984. Last week Egypt’s administrative court ruled that the government must set a minimum wage that took high prices into account but did not set a figure.

This is not enough for the protesters and says the government rarely applies the court’s rulings.

Mohieldin said some opposition politicians were seeking to capitalize on labor issues ahead of a parliament election this year and a presidential vote in 2011.

Inflation was 12.8 percent in February, down from a peak of 23.6 percent in August 2008 caused by surging world commodity prices.

Republished with permission from bikya masr