CAIRO: Workers from the Canal Company for Ports and Large Projects held a press conference Monday to announce that workers of another subsidiary company of the Suez Canal Authority, the Port Said Rope Company, have begun an open-ended sit-in outside the Authority’s offices in the Suez coastal city of Port Said.
Ahmed Farghaly, an employee at the Port Said Company told Daily News Egypt that the sit-in began Sunday at 8 am.
He said that some 1,000 workers are taking part in the protest, demanding equality with employees of the Suez Canal Authority.
Workers of the Canal Company, which employs 2,000 people, had begun their sit-in last week in Ismailia.
Mohamed Anwar, the head of the company’s trade union committee, said that while workers are determined to continue the sit-in, they have discounted the idea of striking.
“We don’t want to strike because we provide drinking water to the people of Ismailia.
Ashour told Daily News Egypt last week that the workers’ primary grievance is the decision by the National Authority for Drinking Water and Sewage, taken three weeks ago, to cancel 19 water station projects the Canal Company has held since 1990.
These projects constitute 40 percent of the company’s work, Anwar said at the press conference.
Workers allege that the government is seeking to gradually close down the company and hand over the work it does to private enterprises.
“It is alleged that other companies can do the work faster and better than us, but the Suez Canal Company has over 21,000 world-class engineering experts, Anwar said.
“It has constructed a number of ports both in Egypt and abroad including Libya and Syria. The plan is to weaken the Canal Company and sell it.
Trade union committee member Mahmoud Morsy concurred, saying “The Suez Canal Authority should be creating companies for those living in the Suez area as part of a process of development. It’s quite the opposite. They’re neglecting it in order to close it down.
“After 26 years of service I earn LE 600 a month. How can I live? A liter of milk costs LE 4, we have to fight to get bread and my daughter’s private tutoring costs LE 300 per month.
“My question to the head of the Suez Canal Authority is: Why are you choking people like this?
Mohamed El-Hamzawy, an employee of the Temsaah Company, one of the seven subsidiary companies of the Suez Canal Authority, explained workers’ demands.
“We want to have the same status as workers at the Suez Canal Authority who enjoy economic advantages denied to us because we fall under a different law, El Hamzawy said.
“We also want equality with authority workers in terms of wages and allowances: an authority worker earns LE 3,000 for doing exactly the same job as his counterpart in the subsidiary companies who earn LE 300 per month.
“Hussein El-Megawar [head of the Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions] promised us earlier this year that he would resolve the problem of allowances, but of course nothing has happened.
El-Hamzawy also explained that the profits of the seven subsidiary companies go to the Suez Canal Authority in its capacity as the parent company.
“As a result of this the authority will take LE 10 million, LE 4 million will go to taxes, and workers – who made the profits in the first place – end up with LE 2 million.