Suez Canal strikers demand Chairman steps down

Bassem Abo Alabass, Sunday 26 Jun 2011

Demonstrations enter their 12th day, upping their demands to include the resignation of Canal Authority head Ahmed Fadel

Suez Canal

About 850 workers from two Suez Canal companies in the city of Ismailiya have escalated their demands on the 12th day of strikes by asking for the resignation of Suez Canal Authority Chairman, Ahmed Fadel.

"He violated his promise to resolve our troubles ... so he’s supposed to leave," Nasser Othman, treasurer of one of the workers’ syndicates in Suez, told Ahram Online.

Othman added that protests by employees of the five other companies in Port Said and Suez are also raging on and “they are now making the same demand".

"Suez Canal's Fadel incited the employees of the main canal operations against us. It was something like a counter-revolution," Othman said, claiming the Authority paid other workers a bonus to attack them.

He said that there had been clashes between the protesters and Fadel's allies, but they were short-lived.

Escalation would continue on Monday and be different in approach, added Othman, although he declined to give any further information.

"Today is Fadel’s last chance to respond," he said.

Ahram Online tried to contact officials at the Canal Authority but they were not available for comment.

Workers’ strikes at seven Suez Canal Authority companies have intensified over the 12 days, with protesters in the cities of Ismailiya and Suez blocking key roads on 20 June.

Company workers began protests on 3 April demanding they receive pay equivalent to those who work for the Suez Canal Authority. Interim Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has given orders to the head of the Authority to resolve the situation.

Employees are demanding a 40 per cent increase in basic salary, 7 per cent bonus payments and a hike in their meal allowances. Workers claim they were promised raises in pay and bonuses by Ahmed Fadel, CEO of the Suez Canal Authority, on 19 April.

Main canal operations are still functioning despite disruptions to supporting services. The Suez Canal is one Egypt's main foreign currency earners, generating US$4.5 billion in 2009-2010.

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