CAIRO: The National Wages Council (NWC) set the minimum wage at LE 400 Thursday, following an administrative court ruling on Tuesday that the government must set a minimum wage in line with the cost of living.
Al-Ahram reported that under the decision individual sectors will be free to set “the maximum wage” after negotiations “between workers’ representatives and employers.”
NWC head Othman Mohamed Othman is also quoted as saying that the minimum wage will be reviewed “every three years” in order to ensure that it reflects living costs.
Quoted in independent daily Al-Shorouk on Thursday, before the new minimum wage was announced, head of the NWC’s Complaints Committee Safwat El-Nahhas said that state administrative employees “will not benefit from any minimum wage put in place because they already earn more than it.”
El-Nahhas said that level 6 state administrative employees earn LE 492 per month, “and a condition if putting in place a new minimum wage is that the current wage earned must be less than the national poverty threshold which stands at between LE 164 and LE 180 per month.”
He added that the minimum wage will apply to individuals with “basic education qualifications” and not university degree holders.
El-Nahhas attributed to NWC’s failure to set a minimum wage since it was formed in 2003 to disagreements between NWC employer and worker representatives, adding, “The government is not responsible for the failure so far to set a minimum wage.”
According to El-Nahhas, employers proposed that the minimum monthly wage should stand at LE 300 and LE 350 while workers representatives demanded a monthly wage of LE 1,200.
Lobbying for a monthly minimum wage of LE 1,200 began in March after Cairo’s administrative court found that the NWC, established under the 2003 Labor Law, must set a minimum wage.
The ruling was upheld on Tuesday. The national minimum wage had not changed since 1984 and before Thursday’s decision stood at LE 84.
El-Nahhas dismissed the demand for a monthly minimum wage of LE 1,200 as “illogical, as it will drastically increase inflation.”
Head of the Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions Hussein El-Megawer meanwhile was quoted by Al-Akhbar as saying that he would not accept a minimum wage of less than LE 500.