Hundreds of notary public employees entered the second day of a strike, bringing further traffic disruption in downtown Cairo with no end in sight for a salary dispute that has become increasingly political.
The angry employees, who were staging their second walkout within a week, said that an open-ended strike is likely, if the Government of Essam Sharaf does not give them an acceptable offer to increase their salaries.
They vowed not to cave in to calls to end their strike as long as their demands were not met.
The employees, who have not received a bonus of 60 days’ pay promised by the Government, have protested outside the famous Notary Public Building in Ramsis Street and called on their colleagues from other governorates to join them.
“The Prime Minister, Essam Sharaf, doesn’t care about Government employees at all anymore,” said Farida Khalid, who was taking part in the protest.
Farida was one of male and female strikers who shouted anti-Government slogans. They wanted the Notary Public Agency to be separated from the Ministry of Justice and have its own budget.
Riot police made a passive show of force and gave the employees room to vent their feelings, appearing not to want to provoke the unrest that characterised strikes and street protests in Egypt more than five months ago.
“The Government refuses to make concessions on salaries and profit-sharing bonuses that have fallen short of employees’ demands. Our salaries and benefits have not kept pace with sharp rises in the cost of living,” Farida pointed out.
Some officials have accused elements of the former regime of provoking the employees to go on strike. They have accused certain persons of stoking the employees’ disobedience.
However, the protesters say they are not influenced by outside forces.
“We are tired of promises that only appease the employees,” said Farida.
She said that she only makes LE650 a month and has worked in the Notary Public Agency for nine years.
“I can only buy food. Next year my oldest daughter will start school. How can I afford those costs”?