ISMAILIA: Workers from the Canal Company for Ports and Large Projects ended a week-long sit-in in the early hours of Wednesday.
Ashraf Abbas, a member of the Egyptian Workers and Trade Union Watch’s Ismailia branch told Daily News Egypt that workers were threatened by state security investigations officers.
“State security officers took two workers aside and made them an offer to increase the compensation and increase workers’ food allowance from LE 26 per month to LE 52, Abbas told Daily News Egypt.
“These are of course paltry offers, but the officers also threatened workers that they would be placed in detention if they did not break up the sit-in.
The previous day, Tuesday, a delegation of journalists had visited the sit-in and on Monday a press conference had been held during which workers from the Canal Company discussed their grievances.
“State security’s attitude changed after things escalated – the media took an interest, there was the press conference in Cairo and workers in Port Said started a sit-in. It was this which prompted state security to intervene, Abbas said.
Workers from the Port Said Rope Workers Company – another subsidiary company of the Suez Canal Authority – began their sit-in on Sunday.
Like the Canal Company workers, they are demanding wage parity with workers from the Suez Canal Authority.
Around 300 workers were gathered outside the Canal Company on Tuesday when Daily News Egypt visited the Ismailia sit-in.
They had erected banners reading “there is no solution other than joining the Suez Canal Authority and “Enough injustice.
Workers complained of extremely low salaries.
“I’ve worked as an accountant for 20 years and take LE 500 per month, Leila El-Sheimy told Daily News Egypt.
“We have an allowance of LE 200 per year for medical costs but other than that we do not have health insurance. What can I do with this salary? she continued.
Workers say that their counterparts in the Suez Canal Authority who do identical jobs take three times as much as them.
Employees of the Canal Company allege that there exists a plan to close down the company, pointing to the fact that permanent employees are no longer being appointed and one quarter of the workforce are on short-term contracts.
The workers allege that this is part of an eventual plan to privatize the Suez Canal Authority.