CAIRO: The heads of university clubs, which represent the interests of teaching faculty in the absence of a union, will meet Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif on Tuesday to discuss demands for higher pay ahead of strike action planned for March 23.
Members of the Egyptian University Faculty Club voted for strike action during the Club’s fifth annual meeting held at the end of February, citing government failure to enter into negotiations about poor pay, security body interference in academic activity and the political detention of professors as the reasons why they launched the action.
The meeting takes place amid press reports that professors are being threatened with repercussions if they join the pending strike.
The local press reported on Friday that university presidents have issued directives to deans to ensure teaching staff are not absent from lectures on March 23, obliging deans to mete out “punishments to professors who flout these directives.
Dr Amr El-Darrag, a professor of engineering at Cairo University and vice chairman of the Club, could not confirm that professors have received such threats.
“I haven’t heard anything about these threats, but it’s possible, he told Daily News Egypt. “Prime Minister Nazif recently issued similar warnings to doctors.
The Doctors’ Syndicate this week postponed a two-hour strike action due to start today after Prime Minister Nazif said during a radio interview that strikes by employees in “vital institutions such as hospitals are illegal.
In response, members of the Doctors Without Rights group have announced their intention to start a seven-day sit-in in the Doctors’ Syndicate beginning today.
El-Darrag says that professors will be holding a preparatory meeting today, ahead of their encounter with Nazif on Tuesday.
In December 2007 the minister of education formed advisory committees to examine conditions in universities.
The report, which was issued two months later, was criticised by teaching staff as offering nothing tangible to professors.
Teaching staff complain that poor wages coupled with chronic government under-funding of public universities have led to a deterioration in academic standards.
The Club is recommending that the monthly income of professors be raised to LE 14,000. It currently stands at an average of LE 3,000.