Waves of strikes erupt across Egypt

Ahram Online, Saturday 17 Sep 2011

Several strikes hit Egypt as teachers struggle for better working conditions and doctors fail to reach an agreement with government over healthcare expenditures

Egypt has witnessed several strikes across the country Saturday. The strikes were staged by public schoolteachers in several of Egypt’s governorates in addition to one group of doctors.

In Assiut, schools of six of the governorate’s districts witnessed teachers’ strikes on the first day of school. The teachers protested that the Education Ministry had not responded to their demands, which included receiving a 200 per cent bonus as stated by law, and the replacement of the minister of education.

Nearby in Luxor, there was a split, where some teachers went on strike and others worked.

Teacher Nahed Hassan Kamel said that the ministry ignores teachers’ demands for better working conditions and adds that her bonus after 20 years of service is only LE114 ($19).

In Gharbeia, several schools began a strike and in the city of Tanta many teachers refused to enter classrooms. As a response, fights erupted between several of the students’ parents and teachers. Other teachers said that their strike would start on Sunday since Saturday is their official weekend. Several of Mahalla city’s schools also witnessed strikes and teachers raised banners demanding that the minister of education be replaced.  

In Qalioubiya, the governorate said that state employees with university degrees will replace teachers on the first days of school in case of a strike, adding that the semester will not witness any delays. So far, several teachers in Qalioubiya responded to the call for a nationwide strike but no organized strike has yet been witnessed in the governorate.  

The teachers’ demands include salary raises and improvements in benefits, decent training and permanent contracts for the thousands of teachers who have been working for years on short-term contracts and therefore lose out on benefits and seniority.

Thousands of school teachers from all over Egypt’s governorates gathered outside the Cabinet headquarters on 10 September demanding better working conditions and threatening to start a strike on the first day of the school term.

On the other hand, a group of doctors in Mahalla also started a strike at the Public Mahalla Hospital demanding better working conditions and supporting the demands upheld by Egypt’s nationwide doctors’ strike. Public sector doctors have been staging strikes for months as they fail to reach an agreement with the government over raising low wages and expenditures on healthcare.

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