Cairo transport workers halt strike, for now

Ahram Online, Sunday 23 Sep 2012

Handful of striking bus depots return to work but remain sceptical over management promises to consider their demands for administration shake-up

Bus depot
Activity at one Cairo bus depot grinds to halt during last week's strike (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Cairo's public transportation workers suspended a weeklong partial strike on Sunday after being promised their demands for an administrative shake-up would be considered.

A handful of bus depots in the capital suspended operations on Saturday 15 September, with workers demanding the separation of the Cairo Transportation Authority (CTA) from governorate administration, and its attachment to the Ministry of Transport — a move, workers say, will boost their salaries and bonuses.
CTA head, Mona Mostafa, met with transport workers on Saturday and pledged the administration would look into their demands.
But a lack of closure suggests further industrial action may not be far off.
"We know that promises are largely meaningless, and we will probably strike again," Ali Fatouh, a leader of the workers independent syndicate at the Cairo Transportation Authority (CTA) told Ahram Online.
"We saw the mess in Cairo's streets and the inability of the Army to fill the gap made by our strike, that’s why we decided that this was enough for the time being," Fatouh added.
But he said that bitter past experience with management was behind workers' cynicism towards the promises they were given.
"It is very easy to talk, but without written agreements bound by a time frame, this talk is mostly useless," he added.
Prime Minister Hisham Qandil also ordered the forming of a committee to look into attaching CTA to the Ministry of Transportation, Ahram's Arabic-language news website reported.
Among the workers' demands is the granting of a 200 per cent bonus and 7 per cent salary increase which, they say, are standard for those working for the Ministry of Transport.
Workers made the same demand during strikes in mid-2011, reaching a compromise agreement with CTA management. 
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