Socialist Worker

Pay struggles shake Egyptian regime

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2100

The government of Hosni Mubarak announced last week that all Egyptian public sector workers would receive a 30 percent wage increase as part of an effort to head off growing militancy. Egyptians who work in the informal sector are not included in the rise.

A few days later the government then issued a new swathe of price rises on fuel, cigarettes and car licensing.

The decision, announced in parliament and covered by live TV, caused a near riot in the chamber among MPs from the opposition Muslim Brotherhood and independents.

The live broadcast was then cut short.

Even before the latest tax rises the 30 percent increase for public sector workers did little to offset the food price rises that have hit 50 percent, and general inflation of 14.4 percent.

The majority of people, including the middle classes, are struggling to find affordable food.

Fights, and even deaths, are a common feature in the growing queues for subsidised bread.

Meanwhile the government is continuing to crackdown on textile workers’ leaders at Mahalla el-Kubra – the Nile Delta town that erupted in riots early last month.

Key militants, including Kamal el-Fayoumi and Tarek Amin, have been sacked from their jobs at the Mahalla textile mill. Doctors’ leaders have also been seized in the security sweeps against critics of the regime.

As the country’s 70 million people struggle to feed themselves, the neoliberal World Economic Forum will be meeting in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh to plan the next phase of “reforms”.

Among the guests will be Prince Andrew, Tony Blair and US president George Bush.

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Tue 6 May 2008, 18:23 BST
Issue No. 2100
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