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"Labor Relations under Law 12 of 2003 in the Wake of Recent Uprisings"

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  Speeches: February 28, 2011

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“Labor Relations Under Law 12 of 2003 in the Wake of Recent Uprisings” was the topic for a meeting hosted by the Legal Committee on February 28 at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel. Ahmed Hassan El Borai, professor and chairman of social Legislation at Cairo University School of Law, talked about the outlook for Egypt’s labor movement. “This is a very strange situation for all of us,”said El Borai, who since has been named minister of manpower.

He began by discussing whether or not private businesses should match the 15 percent raise that government workers will get in April. “This is a very important issue because the base salary in the private sector is much higher than that in the public sector. If private companies start adding the [annual government] raise to base salaries, this will impact the their cost structures,” said El Borai. He emphasized that companies are not legally bound to match the government raise, but they should condsider doing so given the political climate.

He outlined four areas that need to be addressed by the new government. Supporting independent labor unions would facilitate a dialogue between workers and management, he said. Secondly, El Borai recommended using a formula based on economic indicators to arrive at a fair minimum wage. Also, on-the-job and vocational training should be used to increase the employability of Egyptians both within the country and abroad.  Finally, the government needs to work to realign the country’s labor culture to the reality of today’s economic model. “During the Nasser era, labor was oriented toward socialism,” he said. “The economy opened up to capitalism, but the labor culture is still a socialist culture.”


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