Cairo airport sees delays as EgyptAir ground staff go on partial strike

Marwa Hussein, Wednesday 7 Sep 2011

Employees are slowing their work as they demand permanent contracts, the payment of bonuses promised since July and an increase in staff numbers to help tackle their heavy workload

EgyptAir staff are standing their ground to gain their promised concessions (Photo: Reuters)

EgyptAir Ground Services employees at Cairo international airport started a partial strike on Wednesday following rumours that concessions they had previously won by strike actions would not be implemented.

“The workers haven't undertaken a full strike, only a slowdown of work," says Mahmoud Rehan, spokesman for the co-ordinating and solidarity committee of civil aviation personnel, a syndicate organising the action.
"The delays will depend on the density of air traffic. Passengers during the rush hours will feel more the delay, while at other times delays will be less serious."
Khaled Moawad, the head of the independent syndicate for ground services formed two months ago, explained that over-worked employees, suffering from understaffing, are simply slowing down their actitivies to complete their allotted work properly.
“Normally four workers would be working on each plane but because of the lack of staff there was some overlap between jobs. Now the team simply works on one plane until the job is finished then they move to another," Moawad said.
The workers main demands are a change of their title from 'workers' to 'technicians', the payment of a new bonus promised since July and the redistribution of 70 per cent of annual profits. They are also asking for Egyptair to take on new employees to make their workload manageable.
“The board of directors of EgyptAir Ground Services accepted the demands but the delay comes from the holding company,” explained Moawad. 
He added that the company has agreed to take on 76 extra workers and return several other workers, who switched to office positions, back to manual work. 
“Many of those took this privilege [of office positions] by nepotism,” he said.
The independent syndicate, which was leading negotiations with the administration, was surprised by the Ground Service workers’ decision but expressed its support. 
Many other civil aviation workers, including pilots, air traffic controllers, engineers and cargo loaders, were already planning a strike. The date floated was 15 September but this has not yet been confirmed.
Civil aviation workers say they are seeking comprehensive reform of the sector, including an end to corruption, the removal of military influence, and reform of the rules for tenders and wages. 
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