Cairo bus drivers (Photo by Mai Shaheen)
After one week of general strike in Cairo, bus drivers today have threatened to escelate their movement against the government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf; some even started a hunger strike.
According to Public Transportation Association (PTA) workers, all garages around Cairo are on strike and busses are not running their routes, except for maybe no more than ten busses.
An estimated 1500 bus drivers, ticket collectors, mechanics and workers from public transportation buses have been protesting before the Cabinet headquarters since Sunday morning to get their demands met.
Representative groups from the drivers’ independent syndicate have made it up to Sharaf's office and are waiting for a meeting.
“If things don’t work out with the prime minister we are planning to bring all bus public transport workers - around 45,000 - to protest before the cabinet,” Ehab Hamdy, bus driver and member of the drivers’ independent syndicate told Ahram Online.
Meanwhile, around 27 workers at the Mazallat and El-Teraa garages in the Shubrah district have gone on hunger strike.
According to the workers, things escalated last night, Saturday, when Labour Minister Ahmed El-Boraie told some workers protesting in front of the PTA headquarters in Nasr City district that they would not be granted 200 per cent wage raises that other civil servants are supposed to receive.
Sharaf has promised last spring to raise minimum wages for all government employees up to LE700.
Drivers, ticket collectors and workers are demanding better pay, working conditions and more presentable uniforms.
They also complain of longstanding corruption at the PTA, along with poor conditions of the current bus fleet, which results in frequent break-downs.
Cairo bus drivers began their strike Sunday, 18 September.