Work resumes Tuesday at Nile Company for Roads after demands met

Marwa Hussein, Tuesday 25 Feb 2014

Ahram Online visits with strikers at state-owned Nile Company for Roads and Bridges ends after management agrees to pay rises and other demands

General Nile Co. For Roads & Bridges workers strike
General Nile Co. For Roads & Bridges workers during their strike, 24 February 2014 (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Workers at the state-owned Nile Company for Roads and Bridges have ended their two-week strike and will return to work on Tuesday after management accepted some of their main demands.

Strike representatives met with the company's CEO on Monday to finalise an agreement that includes a 35 percent increase in the workers' basic salary.

Workers whose salary is below the minimum wage of LE1,200 ($170) will be also granted a special bonus. 

"Workers feel quite satisfied as their salaries will be increased by a few hundred pounds," Wael Mansi, a worker, told Ahram Online. 

The strike by 7,000 workers at various locations started when the government did not implement the minimum wage of LE1,200 promised to state employees.

"I understand the workers' demands because the cost of living has increased," said company CEO Mohsen Abbas, adding that the government's decision to increase the minimum wage at some establishments and not others had caused confusion. 

The strike was led by young workers, not the union's leadership that was elected before the January 2011 revolution. 

"I have suspended my union membership as it has not supported the workers' demands," said Hassan Abdel-Fattah, the general secretary of the local branch of the union. 

"Workers at some sites have special demands that have not been met, like better meals and lodging facilities," said Hatem Atiya, a workers' representative.

According to Atiya, some workers spend their nights in small, poorly constructed wooden rooms on their work sites and the food is poor.

Workers held two one-day strikes after the revolution which resulted in the dismissal of some bosses and an increase in the daily meal allowance from LE3 to 5LE (less than a dollar). 

In Monday's agreement bosses pledged not to administratively or legally pursue workers for striking, while workers vowed to make up for the hours lost due to the strike.

According to Abbas, the company's monthly turnover dipped from LE110 million ($15,7 million) in January 2011 to LE65 million in February.

Egypt's ailing economy has been grappling with a spate of labour strikes across multiple sectors that include textile workers, physicians, postal workers, public transport workers, and low-ranking police officers.

Disgruntled workers have been clamouring for better pay and working conditions and say the government has done little to meet their longtime demands or implement the recently passed minimum wage for public sector workers.

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