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Minister of manpower offer to raise wages is no good: striking Cairo bus drivers

Bus drivers remain on strike at two of the larger bus depots in the greater Cairo area, telling Ahram Online that a deal between their union and the minister of manpower is not enough

Ekram Ibrahim, Mostafa Ali, Wednesday 28 Sep 2011
Cairo bus drivers
Striking Cairo bus drivers display dangerous buses(Photo by Mai Shaheen)
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A large number of public transport workers are persisting in their 11-day old strike after rejecting Tuesday’s deal between their union and Ministry of Manpower Ahmed Hassan El-Borai, according to two leading union members at one of the capital’s main bus depots. Furthermore, hundreds of employees Wednesday morning maintained their protest in front of the Cabinet’s offices for the fourth day now.  

Representatives of the Independent Union of Transport Workers, who represent 45,000 bus drivers, ticket collectors and mechanics, had reached a tentative agreement with El-Borai which stipulated that workers would immediately end the work stoppage in exchange for a promise by the minister to meet all their economic demands by 10 October.

Union members have asked the ministry to apply a 200 per cent raise to their basic monthly salary in order to allow them to reach a LE700 ($117) per month minimum wage that Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s government promised to all public sector workers last spring. Workers also demand a guaranteed 100-months-salary retirement bonus for employees, upgrading the decaying bus fleet and new work uniforms.

Mohamed Mounir and Ahmed Mahmoud, drivers stationed out of El-Mazallat depot in the Shubra district, told Ahram Online that hundreds of workers at their garage have refused to suspend their strike on grounds that the minister’s promise to raise wages without committing to their basic demand of a 200 per cent permanent raise was unacceptable.

Both drivers said that workers from their depot have planned to march on the Cabinet’s offices in downtown Cairo this afternoon in order to exert more pressure on Sharaf’s government.

According to the two drivers, most of the capital’s 25 bus depots have also rejected the deal the union reached with El-Borai.

While Cairo streets Wednesday morning appeared to be free of public buses, Ahram Online was unable to reach elected officials in the Independent Union of Transport Workers to confirm that the majority of workers have rejected the deal or formally decided to abstain from working.

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