The wage structure did not exhibit major shifts, except perhaps
between private and public employment. The real average wage per
worker throughout the economy probably increased from ŁE257 in 1977
to ŁE1,210 in 1986, or at the rate of 18.8 percent per year. In the
same period, the consumer price index rose at an annual rate of
about 15 percent. Not all sectors, however, exhibited increases
similar to the overall average.
The highest wages in 1986 were recorded in the oil industry and
finance and insurance. Oil industry workers received 4.8 times the
overall average wage, and workers in finance and insurance, 2.8
times. Agricultural wages remained the lowest, about 42 percent of
the overall average, similar to their 1977 ratio. Unofficial
studies, however, indicated that agricultural workers' wages did
not exceed 20 percent to 29 percent of the overall average. The
industrial and mining wage remained steady at about 1.3 times the
overall average in 1986.
Average annual pay in the private sector was said to be three
times that in the government. Government employees, who lived on
fixed incomes and had been given the sobriquet "the new poor,"
probably suffered the most from inflation, in spite of ad hoc costof -living raises, including an 18 percent increment in the FY 1987
budget to offset the impact of the May 1987 austerity program. The
government had a limited ability to raise salaries significantly,
because wages constituted the largest item of its budget
(see Public Finance
, this ch.). Civil service remuneration was based on
a grade system that left little room for merit allowances. Publicsector enterprises were given more leeway with respect to wage
determination, although most raises were intended to compensate for
cost-of-living increments. Workers in public-sector enterprises,
especially in industry, were unionized and were able to bargain
collectively. There was little unionization among private-sector
Wages alone did not tell the whole story of workers'
compensation. The Nasser regime introduced a set of fringe
benefits, including pension, health insurance, and paid holidays
that had been practically nonexistent before. Their costs as a
whole in organized urban industry amounted to 20 percent of the
wages in FY 1969. No such estimates were available for the 1980s.
Data as of December 1990