Finance minister Ali Mahmoud understands worker demands Khartoum – Abedalgoum Ashmeag Sudanese Finance Minister, Ali Mahmoud, has held talks with the director of the Sudanese Workers’ Trade Unions Federation (SWTUF), Professor Ibrahim Ghandour. The duo discussed worker demands in their first meeting since the federation backed down from its decision to refuse dialoue with Mahmoud for neglecting the federation’s demand of increased wages. The finance minister said he understood the workers’ demands, but stressed that the matter \"hinged on the government’s ability\" to cover the expected wage rise. In the current climate, he said it would be difficult to fulfill or approve the federation’s demands. Mahmoud also said that the 2013 budget, currently in parliament is aimed at maintaining economic stability and reducing inflation by increasing production. He added that the budget will see an increase in social benefits and health insurance. Speaking after the meeting, Professor Ghandour denied that there was “conflict” or a “struggle” with the Ministry of Finance or the cabinet, explaining that the situation is \"a dispute between two state institutions.\" Ghandour said that his organisation has almost 450,000 members, adding that he could not ignore the demands of that segment of Sudanese society which he said had chosen him as their advocate. However, he also said he appreciated the country’s current circumstances. The labour chief explained that the demands for a wage increase came after the local currency lost value to foreign currencies, and due to the high rate of inflation. He also pointed out that neighbouring Libya and Egypt had introduced a wage increase after their Arab Spring revolutions. The SWTUF says current wage levels do not cover a worker’s basic needs and demands a minimum wage of 450 Sudanese pounds (less than $100). Teachers in some Sudanese universities held a strike in protest of the Finance Ministry’s failure to pay over a year’s worth of back-logged wages. Some Khartoum hospital and health services workers have also threatened to organise a protest vigil for the same reason. Sudan is currently experiencing an increase in prices that some say will lead to problems with the working class, should the government refuse to raise wages.