Local BBC Cairo journalists launch three-day strike to protest against low salaries

Local BBC Cairo journalists launch three-day strike to protest against low salaries
The BBC is known for paying higher salaries to foreign nationals working at the Cairo bureau than the local Egyptian staff.
3 min read
Egypt - Cairo
17 July, 2023
The BBC management has taken measures to resolve similar crises in other bureaus in the region, though. [Getty]

On Monday, the local BBC staff in the Egyptian capital Cairo started a three-day strike to protest against their low salaries and discriminatory measures amid deteriorating living conditions and an ongoing economic crisis that hit the North African country hard over the past months.

"BBC journalists in Cairo…express their deepest concerns towards what they see as systematic discrimination against them, from the management in London in terms of payment policies," they said in a statement circulated by them on social media platforms.

"We are adamant about continuing our escalatory measures in response to the insistence objection, disregarding our demands, and adopting a discriminatory approach against Cairo staff," the statement said.

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The last adjustment of the salaries undertaken at the Cairo Bureau of the local staff was in 2020. This week's strike is the second in almost a month; the first was held for one day on 14 June.

"Since then, we have repeatedly asked the managers to review our salaries in light of this sharp devaluation of the local currency. London, at first, ignored these demands, then offered meagre increases that never matched or made up for the severe losses we endured due to the devaluation," the BBC Cairo staff said in their statement.

The BBC, which has offices in 44 countries and 58 cities, has taken measures to resolve similar crises in other regional bureaus, though.

"The managers succeeded in reaching satisfactory financial settlements with the staff elsewhere in the region, which, in turn, deepened our sense of being discriminated against," the journalists' statement read.

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"Therefore, we have decided to escalate until we get our full rights. The BBC has left us with no other option. We kept waiting for months, hoping to resolve through negotiations, but so far, we haven't been given any acceptable offers," the BBC Cairo staff concluded in their statement.

A BBC spokesperson told The New Arab that the BBC has a Volatile Markets Policy which ensures close monitoring of inflation across the countries in which it operates.

"We recognise that the economic situation in Egypt is having a significant impact on our staff and we are increasing salaries by 27% between March and July this year to mitigate the levels of high inflation in the country," the BBC statement said.

"We are disappointed staff have taken strike action and continue to engage with them to find a resolution whilst acting within our market pay policy which is applied consistently across the BBC, globally," the BBC said.

Egypt's annual headline inflation climbed in May to hit 33.7 per cent compared to 15.3 per cent in the same month in the previous year when the Egyptian pound lost nearly half of its value due to the government's controversial economic measures.