17 July 2023

BBC staff in Cairo strike in call for equal pay with Middle East colleagues

17 July 2023

The BBC’s staff in Cairo have gone on a three-day strike to demand equal pay with other colleagues in the Middle East as Egypt’s economic crisis deepens further.

According to Khaled el-Balshy, the strikers’ spokesperson and head of Egypt’s journalism union, the 75 staff members from the broadcaster’s Cairo bureau are demanding to be paid in dollars – like other BBC employees in the region, including in Beirut and Istanbul.

The walkout is to end on Wednesday.

Over the past year, the Egyptian pound has lost more than 50% of its value against the dollar, with annual inflation reaching 36.8% in June, up from 33.7% recorded in May.

The country’s economy is reeling from years of government austerity measures, the coronavirus pandemic and fallout from the Ukraine war.

Egypt is a top wheat importer from Russia and Ukraine.

Mr El-Balshy posted on Facebook that the BBC staff in Egypt consider the disparity in pay as a form of “systematic discrimination”.

They had earlier asked for their salaries to be re-evaluated in light of the Egyptian pound’s depreciation but this request was first ignored before “meagre increases” were eventually offered.

The BBC said the broadcaster was aware of Egypt’s economic situation and has been planning “increasing salaries by 27% between March and July this year to mitigate the levels of high inflation in the country”.

The statement did not elaborate.

Mr El-Balshy told The Associated Press the strikers may consider legal action and extending the walkout if their demands are not met.

Last month, the BBC Cairo staff held a one-day strike over unequal pay.

BBC staff declined to comment on the walkout and referred media questions to Mr El-Balshy, who was to hold a news conference on the industrial action on Wednesday.

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