Courthouse employees strike in Damietta (Photo: Ahram)
Courthouse employees in several governorates throughout Egypt have gone on strike to demand higher pay and better work benefits.
The strike began on Tuesday in the governorates of Alexandria, Gharbiya, Damietta, Suez and Qena, with more workers reportedly joining the strike action on Wednesday.
In affected cities, work at some courthouses was reportedly brought to a standstill.
According to eyewitnesses in Suez, four court employees were injured on Tuesday when military personnel forced open the gate of Suez' main courthouse after it had been sealed by employees.
Meanwhile, there have been conflicting reports as to the magnitude of the labour action.
Mohamed Gharib, head of the courthouse workers union, estimated the number of striking employees in the tens of thousands out of some one hundred thousand people employed in the sector.
But Deputy Justice Minister Mohamed Manei, for his part, asserted on Wednesday that it was business as usual at most of the nation's courthouses.
According to Manei, the Tuesday strike came as a surprise to the ministry. He went on to point to a Monday meeting between Justice Minister Adel Abdel-Hamid and workers union secretary-general Saleh Abdou in which, Manei says, the minister vowed to meet some of the workers' demands.
Courthouse employees staged a series of demonstrations last year in the wake of Egypt's Tahrir Square uprising. The renewed calls to strike, they say, comes as a response to authorities' failure to meet their legitimate demands.
Courthouse workers are calling for healthcare for their families on an equal basis with judges and prosecutors, as well as a budget for courthouse employees separate from that for prosecutors and judges.