Ports Authority workers strike against military presence

More than 200 workers and employees at the Headquarters of General Authority of Red Sea Ports (GARSP) in Suez started a strike Wednesday demanding the removal of naval officers, who were assigned by the government-run authority in December 2011 to “secure” Suez port.  The strike, employees confirm, followed a three-day sit-in.

Emal El-Shemi, a security guard at GARSP, claimed workers of three neighbouring ports Adabieh, Suez and Safaga, are also striking in solidarity with employees of the authority.

“The authority has became like a military barracks,” El-Shemi explained, when eight Egyptian marines were posted to the Suez port area to prevent strikes and sit-ins and to monitor movement in and out of the port. However, the security guard added, the marines failed to do their job and instead have vacated themselves from the port and spent three months “at home” doing nothing.

“The Authority should end the assignment of the naval forces and handover their role to the workers of the authority,” he told Ahram Online.

El-Shemi claimed that the current Head of Central Administration for Ports’ Affairs, Hani Hosni, was accused of bribery a few years ago whilst he was still head of Safaga port. The administrative court has yet to give their verdict on the case. “He should leave, we do not want corruption anymore,” El-Shemi concluded.

The Vice Admiral Mohamed Abdel-Qader, head of the GARSP, denied there were strikes taking place in other ports. The situation is normal, he told Ahram Online confirming that, in fact, Hosni resigned Wednesday afternoon. Hosni reportedly handed in his resignation to the authority on account of the strike action. However, details are still to be confirmed.

Abdel-Qader also claimed that the authority has responded to all of the workers demands.  However, as El-Shemi told Ahram Online, the workers believe “there has been no reply from the authority to our demands since we began the sit-in on Sunday.'”

GARSP was established under presidential decree no. 217 in 1987. It oversees all the ports in the three key governorates of Suez, South Sinai and Red Sea, in addition to observing navigational movement in these areas.

Suez, Adabieh, Safaga, Nuweiba, Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada and North El-Sokhna are affiliated to Red Sea Ports Authority. GARSP announced total revenues worth LE499 million in the fiscal year 2010/11.


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