The State Council officially exempted the judiciary and the prosecution from the Maximum Wage Law in a Wednesday ruling.
Ratified last summer, the law caps wages at LE42,000 for public-sector employees. That includes bonuses and all other payments on top of regular monthly wages, with the exception of travel expenses.
At the time, members from several branches of the judiciary protested against the law and demanded their exclusion from its provisions. The State Council looked into the matter at the request of the head of the Mansoura Court of Appeals.
Responding to another request from Telecom Egypt, the State Council had also ruled that joint stock companies financed by the state were exempt from the wage limit, as well. That ruling then led to the further exclusion of public sector banks established through these stock companies.
Ahmed Hossam, a lawyer at the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), told Mada Masr that exempting joint companies from the law has a sound legal basis, but excluding the judiciary is harder to rationalize.
In the absence of a legal explanation behind the decision, Hossam speculated that it may have been motivated by an ongoing effort to exclude the judiciary from state bodies, and treat is as an independent, stand-alone institution.
However, from a legal and economic perspective, the judiciary is still a state facility whose wages are paid by the state and tax payers, Hossam explained. From that perspective, he asserted that the maximum wage cap should be applied.
The law’s vague stipulations have already allowed for several exceptions, and may ultimately render the law useless and only applicable to a handful of state employees, Hossam argued.
He also pointed out that because the law was passed by presidential decree without the State Council’s review, as mandated by the 2014 Constitution, then it could be attacked as unconstitutional.
Therefore, according to Hossam, if anyone affected by the wage cap decided to challenge the law, it could legally be struck down.
*Photo by Sarah Carr