Workers strikes on the rise; disputes at ETUF temporary committee

CAIRO: Workers at the Mahalla Textile Factory, the Post Authority, health technicians and petroleum companies are planning to start or expand ongoing mass strikes demanding financial rights and the resignation of corrupt leaderships.

Post Authority workers in nine governorates continued their strike demanding their 7 percent annual incentive and the promised 200 percent monthly reward incentive and the cleansing of the authority from corrupt leaderships.

The Ismailia post employees have been on strike since Aug. 25 demanding a profit share from projects affiliated with the authority, better working conditions and healthcare.

“In Cairo, we are still coordinating to unify our demands and there will be a call for a general strike across the country,” said Momen Magdy, head of the Cairo Independent Post Workers Syndicate.

In Mahalla, workers at the textile factory announced that they will start a strike on Sept. 10 demanding more investments into the company, a minimum wage of LE 1,200 or 200 percent monthly incentive and organizing internal elections on the scheduled date.

“We were the first people to suggest deducting two days from our monthly salaries to support the state but now they are paying other workers and ignoring us,” said Faisal Laqousha, a labor leader at the factory.

Laqousha said that they met with Deputy Prime Minister Ali Al-Selmy in July and presented a memo to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) but received no response. They resorted to the strike as a last option, he added.

A number of workers wanted to begin the strike Sunday Sept. 4; however, attempts to organize a protest failed due to the low turnout.

Meanwhile, residents of Edco village in Beheira cut off the international road along the Mediterranean protesting the construction of British Petroleum’s a natural gas compound near the city.

“The compound is only 200 meters away from residential areas and the terms of the company’s contract with the Egyptian government are unfair and illegal and will cost the government losses estimated to be LE 250 million per year,” said Saad Mansour, a resident of Edco.

“Two similar projects in the area have already caused agricultural land to lose its fertility because of acid rain and the fish died in the sea,” he said.

Protests were sparked by the launch of construction operations at the site under Naval Police protection which angered locals.

Workers at petroleum companies affiliated with ABESCO are planning an open sit-in on Sept. 12 demanding the implementation of a previous decision by the management to appoint workers on temporary contracts.

“They appoint their family members and ignore ordinary workers. We want to fight corruption in petroleum companies,” said Ahmed Saeda one of the organizers of the protests.

Health technicians are also set to organize a general strike on Sept. 25 demanding better pay and raising occupational hazard allowances.

Meanwhile, a decision by Minister of Manpower Ahmed Al-Bora’y — on recommendation by head of the temporary committee running the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), Ahmed Abdel Zaher — to include five heads of general syndicates in the committee, sparked an internal dispute.

Members of the committee refused Abdel Zaher’s decision saying that they don’t want any of the disbanded ETUF figures to return. Former leaders of the ETUF were ousted from the board but kept their posts as the heads of general trade unions.

“There are court rulings stating that the general trade unions’ boards elections were rigged and so they must be disbanded; our first task is to implement court rulings,” said Ahmed Al-Sayed, member of the committee.

He said that they received a promise from Al-Bora’y to cancel the decision and are set to meet him on Monday to discuss the issue.

Abdel Zaher previously told Daily News Egypt that he is willing to accept former leaders of the ETUF in co-managing the federation.

“They are our colleagues and the decision to disband was because of an administrative fault by the former minister Aisha Abdel Hady not a violation they committed. At least we haven’t proven anything yet,” he said.

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