At least 1,500 workers from the Suez Canal Authority protested Thursday in three Egyptian cities alongside the strategic waterway, demanding better pay and working conditions.
The workers, however, vowed their protest would not disrupt traffic through the waterway.
The workers, mainly administrative and technical employees with the canal authority, said they were not receiving the required government pay increases and that the authority adopts a two-tiered system that provides better benefits to professional employees.
600 workers at Port Fouad Arsenal on the Suez Canal (South Suez) are demanding the same access to medical treatment and leisure facilities as high officials and engineers .
“There is discrimination between workers and engineers when it comes to many facilities that both parties need”, says Omar Ahmad, one of the protestors.
About 500 people protested in front of the authority's headquarters in the city of Ismailia east of Cairo. And there were similar protests in Port Said to the north.
Omar Ahmed adds that all the demands were collectively presented to the Chairman by the 3 heads of their syndicates .
The canal links the Red Sea and the Mediterranean and spares shipping the long journey around Africa to reach the Atlantic or the Indian oceans.
About one million barrels of oil is shipped through the canal daily. The Suez Canal Authority Chairman, Ahmed Ali Fadel, says that 55 ships already crossed the Canal on Thursday.