In the capital, Cairo, on Monday, Al Jazeera journalists witnessed a series of protests over the new labour code.
A small, small group of protesters marched past the presidential palace, with the slogan, “We want to abolish the labour code”.
“It’s a clear expression of frustration,” says one protester, Fadel al-Tawil.
“We are tired of this regime, of corruption, of injustice, of the exploitation of the poor, of exploitation of labour.”
Al Jazeera understands the protesters have been organising for weeks.
It is unclear what sparked the protest, but the protesters are demanding that the labour codes be changed to recognise the value of labour and not a wage or salary.
“This is a clear statement of what we have been demanding for the last five years: a better living for all,” says protester Ahmed al-Abd, who was taken away from his home by police on Monday.
Al Jazeera has obtained a video that shows protesters on Monday demonstrating outside the government headquarters in Cairo, chanting “this is our revolution”.
They also called for the resignation of the cabinet and the appointment of a new president.
The demonstrations are a direct response to the announcement of the new code, which calls for a 15% minimum wage and a minimum wage hike.
“I’m a realist.
I think we have enough, enough problems,” says Abdul-Aziz, a 27-year-old shopkeeper, referring to the government’s proposed minimum wage.
“And I’m tired of waiting.”
The government has said the minimum wage increase is necessary to address the country’s long-term economic crisis.
But the protesters say that the government has not delivered on the promise of better wages.
“They promised the minimum wages, and we didn’t get them,” says al-Dawani, who works at a bakery in the central Cairo district of Suez.
“People in the middle class got nothing.”
The protests were sparked by the announcement in January of the revised labour code, and by the failure of the government to deliver on its promise.
Al-Abdullahi, the activist who organised the protest on Monday and who was also taken to hospital on Monday night, says the government is failing to address basic social and economic issues.
“The people are saying: We need a real change,” he says.
“What is happening is not right, but people have no choice.”
Protesters have also demanded that the cabinet resign, saying that the Cabinet is stacked with politicians who favour the interests of the rich.
On Tuesday, the cabinet’s head, Ibrahim Ibrahim El-Erian, called on the protesters to stop the protests, and urged the government not to respond to the protests with violence.
“In order to make a change, it is necessary for people to express their opinions and organise,” he said.
“There is a need for change, but it’s also a responsibility of the state.”
Al-Dwani says that the protests are not just about the new minimum wage, but also about the lack of jobs and a lack of access to basic services.
“Why can’t we live on our own?” he says, adding that he is concerned about the future of Egypt’s poor.
“How many Egyptians will survive on this minimum wage?” he asks.
“If the minimum pay doesn’t improve, then the economy will fall apart.
And the people will fall into poverty.”
Egypt’s new labour law comes into force on 1 January 2018.
The government is expected to announce a minimum annual salary of 60,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,600) for employees aged between 18 and 55.
The minimum wage has been raised in the past several years, with a rise in the minimum of 15% in 2011 and another rise in 2014.
However, the minimum increase is not expected to bring about an increase in living standards for workers.
The new labour laws were passed amid growing protests, with hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating in the streets of Cairo, including in front of the Egyptian Parliament, on Wednesday.
The protests have taken a heavy toll on the economy.
The Egyptian government’s fiscal deficit reached 1.8% of GDP in 2017, the highest level in the world.
The country’s debt to GDP ratio, which is the ratio of its debt to gross domestic product, hit a record high of 157% in 2017.
The IMF has warned that the economic crisis in Egypt is set to worsen, with Egypt facing a massive public debt load.
According to the International Monetary Fund, the country has a budget deficit of 1.7% of its GDP in 2018.
On Monday, the IMF’s World Economic Outlook projected that the country will need to borrow about $20bn to cover its deficit.
Al Jazeeras comments in the latest edition of Al Jazeera Arabic, “The new labour legislation will bring a lot of reforms to Egypt’s economy,” says Al Jazeera Egypt’s Fadel Mohamed.
“But there will be