CAIRO: In an attempt to undercut any momentum for a strike on his birthday May 4, President Hosni Mubarak declared a 30 percent pay rise for government employees across the board from the beginning of next month.
The increase was declared at the annual speech Mubarak gave on Wednesday on the occasion of Labor Day (May 1), which is a national holiday.
Activists had called for the strike on Mubarak’s birthday after the fallout of the April 6 general strike which saw violent clashes between textile workers in Mahalla and security forces.
Additionally, 11 people have died in clashes at bread lines across the country as prices of basic goods have skyrocketed to reflect the increase in world prices.
“I follow hour by hour [news] about the bread lines, the price increases, the concerns of families in general and of the poor and those with limited incomes in particular, Mubarak said.
“The raise is not for all the workers of Egypt, but those who work in the government and public sector. The private sector is free to implement this raise or not, so not everyone will benefit from this, Diaa Rashwan from Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies told Daily News Egypt.
Mubarak had called for the private sector to follow suit in the increase.
“And who said that Egypt’s problems come from high prices or inflation alone? People also suffer from things such as unemployment, corruption and the unequal distribution of wealth, Rashwan added.
Mubarak said in his speech, “We are not isolated from the world. We import half of our needs of grain and corn and 90 percent of cooking oil, and our imports of food commodities increase year after year to meet the growth of the population.
“Of course, nobody expected a 30 percent increase … but I asked the government to search for resources, he added.
AP reported that inflation in Egypt had reached 14.4 percent by March.”Any rise in wages will lead to more inflation, so it is possible once this is implemented that inflation might rise, and we wouldn’t have solved anything, so I don’t see this as a long term solution, Rashwan said.
“The solution isn’t in new decisions, but in new policies. The president didn’t come forward to offer policies. Not once has the government – all the way back to 1978 – admitted any criticism of prior policies, but have always amended current policies, he added.
Mubarak sounded a warning for the organizers of the strike, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, which had not participated in the previous strike but had recently backed the upcoming one.
He said he would “face with the force of the law and its firmness those who take lightly the security and stability of the country.