Egypt's manpower minister reaches agreement with transport workers

Yassin Gaber, Tuesday 27 Sep 2011

After a ten-day strike, reports emerge of government concessions to Cairo bus drivers despite an earlier refusal to enter into negotiations

PTA workers
Cairo public bus drivers, mechanics and ticket collectors have been on strike since 17 September. (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

An agreement, whose details are as yet unclear, has been reached between Egypt’s minister of manpower, Ahmed Hassan El-Borai, and public transportation workers Tuesday, after a ten-day strike. An Ahram Online source, however, indicates that there are divisions among the workers on whether to accept the proposed agreement.

“We are not going to call off our strike until a formal document, signed and stamped by the minister, is handed to us. There are plenty of words. We want more,” stated Gamal El-Din Said, the technical director of the Public Transport Authority (PTA).

News of the agreement follows an earlier statement by El-Borai in which he stressed his refusal to negotiate with strikers, citing a Cabinet decision, according to Tuesday’s Al-Ahram daily. Furthermore, the minister claimed that the PTA was losing LE1 million per day as a result of the strikes and that more than LE140 million would be needed to meet workers’ demands. The country’s current resources, he argued, are not sufficient to commit to such an amount.

The manpower minister, met with representatives of the workers in his office in Cairo. According to the same source, members of the state-backed union were not in attendance.

PTA workers – including drivers, ticket collectors and mechanics among others – are calling for better wages, a 200 per cent increase in minimum salaries promised to other members of the public sector, an upgraded bus fleet, uniforms for drivers and conductors, as well as a 10-month bonus for retiring drivers.

The strike action, called and organized by the Independent Union of Transport Workers, began on Saturday 17 September and saw the participation of all 25 of Greater Cairo’s bus depots. Dozens of workers began hunger strikes, according to Said, several of whom have been taken to hospital. 

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