Egypt bank employees work but insist on demands

Ahram Online , Sunday 20 Feb 2011

As Egyptian banks reopen and customers line up, employees have suspended strikes but still push for widespread change

National Bank

Egyptian banks reopened today after a controversial decision by the Central Bank of Egypt to close all banks on Monday 14 February following massive strikes and sit-ins at branches and offices the day before. On the first full working day since 28 January, Egyptian lined up early Sunday morning, waiting for their first chance to conduct their business since the banks closed a week earlier.

Employees worked regularly and did not organise any strikes during working hours but made it clear they hadn't given up on their demands.

Most bank employees are contesting the board of directors system and large disparities in wages. Many employees accuse the head of banks of nepotism and corruption.

The first response of the Central Bank was to close all the banks for a whole week, a decision criticised by businessmen and bank customers. Protesters were requested to appoint committees of 10 to 20 members to communicate their demands to the Central Bank of Egypt. The committee meetings are scheduled to begin Monday.

The employees of Banque Misr, Egypt's second largest bank, had already appointed their negotiators, refusing the demands of the Central Bank to appoint the administration'smanagers to represent them.

At the National Bank of Egypt, the country's largest, employees are one step behind - they haven't yet chosen their negotiators with the Central Bank. "There will be online voting tomorrow, 500 candidates proposed their names. It's not very easy to choose among them as we don't know them all", said Khaled Hosni, an employee. "Negotiations should start on Tuesday", he added.

Countless stories of nepotism have been told by angry bank employees. "Partisans of the Future Generation Foundation, headed by Gamal Mubarak, were given permanent contracts in the bank, regardless of their skills, while there are other employees who work on a full-time basis without any contracts," a branch manager who preferred to remain anonymous told Ahram Online in a previous interview.

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