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Medical specialists stage Cabinet protest, launch partial strike

Thousands of health ministry-affiliated medical specialists protest against Sharaf outside Cabinet building, threaten general strike if demands aren't met

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Sunday 25 Sep 2011
Medial specialists
Medial specialists protest 25 September 2011 at Cabinet(Photo by Mai Shaheen)
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Some 3000 public-sector medical technicians staged a demonstration in front of the Cabinet building in Cairo on Sunday to coincide with the launch of a general labour strike by the health technologists syndicate set to commence the same day. Their demands include better wages and work hazard compensation, as well as official representation on hospital administrative boards.

"We've launched a nationwide strike today, exchanging work shifts so as not to bring our services to the public to a total halt," said syndicate head Ahmed El-Sayed. "There will be no strikes at emergency departments."

"If our demands aren't met, we will launch a total strike on 2 October to coincide with the national child vaccination campaign," El-Sayed added. "While we will refrain from conducting home vaccination visits, we will continue to provide vaccinations at medical centres."

Some striking medical specialists have complained of ill treatment by the administrations of certain hospitals and clinics - and by police. "Three of our workers were arrested and subject to humiliating treatment at the hands of police," El-Sayed told Ahram Online.

Early this month, the health technologists syndicate vowed to launch a nationwide strike and stage demonstrations at the Cabinet building in an effort to ratchet up pressure on the Ministry of Health.

The EU-based International Public Service Union, which advocates for workers' rights worldwide, recently issued an open letter to Prime Minister Essam Sharaf expressing support for the syndicate’s call to strike and criticising the interim government's "failure" to deliver on promises made following Egypt's recent revolution to ensure social justice and workers' rights.

Copies of the letter were sent to high-level government officials, including the ministers of finance and manpower, along with a number of local and international civil society organisations.

The Egyptian Health Technologists Syndicate was established late last year, becoming the country's second independent labour union.

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