CAIRO: Members of the official trade union representing train drivers said that they accept the Ministry of Transport’s decree issued last month concerning pay allowances.
Mahmoud Saber, head of the trade union committee which is part of the state-controlled Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions (EFTU), announced the end of the dispute.
On Tuesday Jan. 20, train drivers in Cairo and other parts of Egypt launched a strike in protest at the Egyptian National Railway’s failure to uphold its promise to pay them the ‘kilo’ allowance, a payment based on the number of kilometers traveled.
Management offered workers 50 percent of the kilo allowance in July 2009 and the remaining 50 percent in 2010 – an offer which workers originally rejected.
The strike only ended when train drivers were promised that their demands would be re-examined 10 days subsequently.
The decree issued last week by Minister of Transport Mohamed Lotfy Mansour upholds the original offer. Train drivers will receive payments of LE 200, 150, 100 or 75 (depending on rank).
They will receive 50 percent of this allowance in July and the other half next year.
Saber said that strike action had been ruled out because drivers did not wish to “harm the country.
“There is a balance of interests at stake: our interests versus those of passengers. A strike will affect passengers. We don’t want to harm the country, Saber told Daily News Egypt.
Saber rejected the suggestion that the decree did not satisfy workers’ demands.
“Yes we did want 50 percent of the allowance to be paid immediately but it has to be remembered that the railways are funded using public money so we have to wait until July when the new budget is issued and there are funds to finance the payments.
The decision was not however met with unanimous acceptance.
“Of course I don’t agree with the decree: we were demanding payment of 50 percent of the allowance immediately, train driver Walid Abdel Hady told Daily News Egypt.
“The union just wants to wrap up the issue – it has never presented our interests properly.
“Under the allowance pay scales I’m a level 4 driver which means that I get LE 75 per month on top of the LE 600 I get every month. I’m married, have one child and pay LE 300 rent. At the end of the month I’ve got nothing left.
They’re humiliating drivers with this allowance which in any case we didn’t want. We wanted a pay rise of a different form.
Abdel Hady said that drivers will consider their response later in the month.
“We can’t really do anything until pay day on the 20th which is when drivers meet together at one place to pick up their salaries.
“It wouldn’t make sense to do anything before that because there wouldn’t be enough people, but we are currently discussing our response.