Egyptians protest over minimum wage

Workers demand an increase in the minimum wage, left unchanged since 1984.

    Analysts say such protests could create more of a political challenge ahead of upcoming elections [AFP]

    The number of demonstrations by workers has increased from 97 in 2002 to 742 in 2009, according to the Land Centre for Human Rights.

    Rising prices

    Egypt's economy has grown robustly in recent years, but many people say only the wealthy have benefited.

    After a food crisis in 2007 and 2008 that triggered bread shortages and protests, inflation has eased, but workers say their problems endure.

    "Prices are rising and workers' wages are declining," Hisham Oakal, a worker from a factory in Egypt's Nile Delta, said during Saturday's demonstration.

    "Meat has become a luxury item that most of us cannot afford."

    Despite their limited support from Egypt's giant workforce, some political analysts say such protests could spawn new alliances, creating the possibility of political change before next year's presidential elections.

    "This is why co-ordinated protests over one unified goal, raising the minimum wage, has the potential to galvanise disparate groups across sectors," Ahmed Naggar, a  leading Egyptian economist, said.

    However, for many in Egypt, where UN figures put gross domestic product per capita at $1,780, the call for political change may be secondary to more basic demands for a better income and jobs.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Why America's Russia hysteria is dangerous

    Why America's Russia hysteria is dangerous

    The US exaggerating and obsessing about foreign threats seems quite similar to what is happening in Russia.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months