When Egypt announced plans for a minimum wage late last year, the government hoped to lift living standards and calm street turmoil that has helped topple two presidents in three years.
Although one in four Egyptians lives below a poverty line of $1.65 a day, many workers say the 1,200 Egyptian pound ($170) minimum wage introduced in January is too little too late in a nation whose rulers have long favoured the elite over the poor.
"Some people spend half that on their pet dogs every day," said Ibrahim Hussein, who earns 800 pounds a month as a private security guard, barely enough to support his three children.
Flush with more than $12 billion in aid from Gulf Arab states, the army-backed government is using some of the cash to defuse unsatisfied demands for reform and social justice.
Many Egyptians backed the army's overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi in July and the ensuing crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood in which about 1,000 of his supporters were killed.
And many are mesmerised by Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the army chief who oustedEgypt's first freely elected leader after mass protests against his rule. Sisi is soon expected to announce he will run for president - and win.
But once the euphoria fades, Sisi in his turn could face what some have dubbed the revolution of the hungry unless eradicating poverty and social ills becomes a higher priority.
"Setting the minimum wage is a first step in the path to social justice... The government must not forget or stop at the minimum wage only," said campaigner Ashraf al-Taalabi.
"If the people do not feel they have social justice there will be a third revolution to achieve that goal."
Corruption, cronyism and stark inequalities in wealth fuelled the 2011 revolt that overthrew autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, when labour unions joined vast crowds demanding "bread, freedom and justice" for the nation of 85 million.