Protesting bank employees are trying hard to find ways to communicate and to select representatives from each bank to launch negotiations with bank boards of directors under the auspices of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).
Negotiation committees are being formed in response to calls for protesting employees to form a group of 20 representatives to discuss their demands with senior management "in the presence of the governor of the central bank", as stated by a press release issued Tuesday by the CBE.
After welcoming the CBE's openness to listening to the demands of the protestors, employees now face the problem of selecting 20 persons, approved by 15,000 employees working in 320 branches all over Egypt, said Khaled Hosny, an economic researcher in one of the public banks hit by protests for the past week.
"The CBE requests that protesting employees select a group of no more than 20 persons to present all the employees' demands, to be then discussed with senior management in the presence of the CBE's governor and his deputy," a statement published in the state newspaper Al-Ahram reads.
The statement came following nationwide bank protests over a number of wage and employment status related issues and demands. The protests spread among employees of public and recently privatised banks. Banks nationwide have been closed since Monday, due to strikes by workers alleging that corruption remained rampant.
On Tuesday, the CBE extended the closure of banks to 16-17 February.
Crisis meetings are scheduled to start Sunday, 20 February, and are to be concluded within a maximum period of four weeks.
"Due to the corruption and stubborness of the former regime," Hosni says, "there is an inherent lack of communication mechanisms among public employees, which makes any organised mass action almost impossible."
Inspired by the 25 January Revolution, on Sunday a large number of employees of state-run banks launched a series of sit-ins at their headquarters and branches, demanding a restructuring of the wages system, the resignation of advisors to boards of directors, and in some banks the dismissing the whole board.
"The decision by the Central Bank has calmed the protestors down for a while, encouraging them to search for a way out," explains Hosni, who has formed with some of his fellow colleagues a "committee of wise men" to absorb the protestors’ anger and try to find a solution to the banks' crisis.
"Yet, there are still some people who insist on some impossible demands, like doubling their salaries and the immediate ouster of the management," Hosni explains.
On the Facebook page created by the bank employees to facilitate dialogue towards a solution, Hosni is trying to persuade employees to concentrate on specific and reasonable demands.
"The insistence on immediate change of the management means chaos, and means more losses to the national economy," Hosni says. "We can just wait until their term ends in April, which is really soon."
In its recent statement Egypt's Central Bank urged all banking sector employees to end their protests and resume work "to ensure the stability of the national economy". The CBE highlighted its commitment to meeting the legitimate demands of employees.