The Egyptian organization for human rights(EOHR)issues its qualitative report entitled” Egypt … The impacts of policy of wages on economic and social rights”, within the framework of EOHR’s interests of the system of economic and social rights and within the approach of signing the alternative Protocol of the international covenant on economic and social rights which will be signed in UN during next September. In accordance with the provisions of the protocol, individuals are allowed to submit a complaint to the commission of economic and social rights on violations which they face in this regard, the Commission has the right to take the necessary action accordingly.
The report aims at revealing the fact of wages in Egypt, the extent of the gap between prices and wages on one hand, wages and services on the other hand, international treaties on wages, focusing on articles included in the Egyptian constitution which guarantee the citizens’ right to get an appropriate wage for his work, the extent of consistency with the present situation and pensions, imbalance of wages system in Egypt and the impacts of that system on the economic and social rights so that to achieve the optimized structure for wages system with stipulating a successful international types in this regard.
The report revealed a number of basic facts as follows:
– The wages system in Egypt is not only under the level of minimum wages, however it lacks any form of international standards on the Status of minimum wages as well. Minimum wages in Egypt is under the extreme poverty line which is internationally determined by two dollars for individual per day. According to the social policy guide issued by UN in January 2009 ,
we find that minimum wages in the Government and private sector amounted 142 pounds, less than the minimum poverty line in Egypt which amounted 150 pounds per month. According to the guide, Egypt ranked the fifth level in the Middle East ,while it ranked the sixty two level on the world within 112 countries involved in the survey.
– According to data issued by the World Bank , minimum wages in Egypt amounts 425 $ annually compared to 875 $ for Algerian worker and 1675 for Moroccan and 1775 for Tunisian and 1850 $ for Senegalese !!. It is worth noting that the increase number of work hours(ranging between 54 and 58 hours per week) in Egypt will decline the rate of minimum wages in accordance with the data of Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.
– The Egyptian constitution and international conventions guarantee the right to get fair wage for work and the need to establish minimum wages, but the real situation is different.
– The legislative system concerned with wages in Egypt includes several articles that degrade the system of worker wage and constitutes a retreat of protection stated for wages, starting from the right to strike , going a head through the right to obtain fair and adequate remuneration for work and appropriate number of hours, finished with arbitrary dismiss.
– The system of wages in Egypt suffers from imbalances between the public sector and private sector, however among the public sectors themselves . The worker doesn’t get the adequate wage in the return for the work done the matter which is considered a clear violation for economic right, namely: “the right to work” which is guaranteed according to the Constitution and international covenants and treaties concerned with.
The report also revealed statistically the disparity of wages among different public sectors, in accordance with the balance of the Ministry of Finance over the past years:
– In 2008/2009 balance, the share of administrative body amounted 38.8 billion pounds , 31.34 billion pounds for the municipalities compared to 8.9 billion pounds for the service authorities.
– In 2007/2008 balance , municipalities possessed the major rate of the paid wages for workers in the public sector as it reached 26.5 billion pounds in the return for 25.8 billion pounds for the administrative authority and 7.9 billion for the service authorities.
– In 2006/2007 balance, the share of municipalities is 24 billion pounds, 20.1 billion pounds for administrative authorities and 7.1 billion pounds for service authorities.
-In 2005/2006 balance, the share of municipalities amounted 21.7 billion pounds, 18 billion pounds for the administrative authority and 6 billion pounds for the service authorities.
– The minimum wage for workers in the public sector is higher than the private sector!!. The average of monthly wage of male workers in the public sector reaches to 684 pounds compared to 576 in the private sector. Similarly, the female workers in the public sector reached 684 pounds against 444 pounds in the private sector.
– Despite the Constitution and international covenants guarantees provided for economic and social rights, we find that the fact is different, besides the imbalance of wages in the Egyptian society which affects negatively the system of economic and social rights .
– In the light of the low wage rates and the high cost of service sectors and the decrease of financial allocations for these sectors from the public balance, we find that there are terrible disparities among individuals to get their rights, as individuals with high wages can enjoy with adequate health care, adequate housing, appropriate clothing, proper education), however people under that rate are outside the framework of the system unlike what governmental statistics and reports have confirmed concerning improvement of the status of economic and social rights.
The report stresses that in the light of the crisis of wages and salaries as a result of government negligence for social policies which have to achieve the balance between wages and prices, besides the absences of national council for wages and its refusal to determine a minimum wage till now, as well as the impacts on the system of economic and social rights,
it is necessary to :
– Review minimum wages for important considerations .. Consumption patterns may change, which requires the revision of the basket of basic goods and services for the worker and his family . Also the number of family may increase in the light of woman participation in the working market. The average of worker productivity may increase on the national or sector level which justify the rise of minimum wages , finally the general average of wages may increase which requires the increase of minimum wages.
In this regard, we confirm that:
1. Minimum wages shouldn’t be less than the cost of the original needs of necessities and demands.
2. Minimum wages should be increased every short period of time in the light of the rise of prices.
3. Goods and necessary services should be supported for the poor class.
4. The need for the National Council for wages to declare minimum wages,
particularly as it has not done so since its establishment in 2003.The council should take into account the economic and social conditions that have deteriorated over the past years and prices of some food commodities and non-food, some of which rose to more than 200%, and to succeed in securing minimum standard of living for the poor through linking wages with prices in accordance with the periodic high prices in Egypt.
Taking advantage of international experience stipulated in this regard, we are in a short need for another mechanisms to fulfill the role of the National Council for wage as follows:
1 – Forming such industrial committees composed of governmental representatives and workers representatives and business organizations in every industry to agree on minimum wages for every industry, just as the experience of Japan. These committees will help submitting different proposals on minimum and maximum limits of minimum wages proposed in each industry.
2 – The necessity of activating the mechanisms of collective negotiation and re-consider them to clarify the nature of the shared companies and the rules of sharing and mechanisms for implementation and ensure the participation of workers in order to establish the rules of this participation .As for employers, they should determine the minimum wages in the light of industry which is able to increase minimum wages .
Managing a broad-based dialogue including all government agencies and business sector and trade sectors and union sectors and civil society organizations concerned with wages in Egypt.
It is worth noting that The importance of administrative reform for the State is the cornerstone for the success of economic reform, particularly the balance of wages is very high due to the increase in the number of employees in the state comparing to the real managing requirements. it is necessary to increase the national production in order not to cause inflation due to that the general balance affords wages balance which amounted 60 billion pounds in 2007/2008 and this year reached to 79 billion pounds.
Emphasizing that the increase of minimum wages alone is not enough unless it is linked to the amendment of the mechanisms of managing market and economy.
The increase would trigger a wave of inflation, however ,it is important to control prices and reduce imports and amending agricultural policy and increase productivity.
The role of government should be biased to commodity sectors and local services to improve the quality of living and working on increasing growth rates and combating corruption and going a head towards decentralization in the delivery of public services.
The need for working among all civil society organizations to organize campaigns ,workshops and conferences and to form groups to practice pressure on the government to set a fair minimum wages commensurate with the international and domestic changes and developments, in order to ensure a decent living wage for all workers and also to ensure a dignified life and safety.
Reforming the system of economic and social rights
– Releasing the freedom of establishing trade unions organizations and civil society organizations which organize and defend the interests of the working group.
-Strengthening and modernizing the governmental institutions concerned with health care for citizens in both quantity and quality and to compel officials with applying decisions related to treatment at the expense of the state and for treatment abroad , activating the health insurance system to cover all citizens and to counter corruption inside it, setting a new system to treat low income citizens and vulnerable groups in the society. Also it is necessary to set a national program to teach and train doctors to enhance their scientific level in accordance with the huge development in the medical technology.
– Reforming all elements of education process (students, teachers, scientific subjects, curriculum and teaching methods, management and the surrounding environment).
– Solving the housing problem as considered one of the basic needs which covenants and constitutions stated the necessary of providing it to citizens. The government has to review its housing policy through empowering low income citizens and the poor to enjoy with the right to adequate housing which meets the standards of healthy housing , privacy and safety.
– Stimulating capabilities and financial, legislative, judicial, and financial institutions to participate in countering corruption through studying its aspects, types, causes and results . Corruption has a bad effects on the political system and undermine the structure of democracy and leads to violate the rights of citizens, especially their right to access to public services and freedoms, including freedom to access to information and media freedom, as well as rights, such as: the right to equality and equal opportunities , the right to political participation.