CAIRO: A day after the conclusion of negotiations to end a strike over pay and working conditions, Land and River Specialized Ambulance Center bosses removed 35 ambulances from the Center’s Giza base on Saturday morning.
Charges of “inciting unrest were then filed against five ambulance drivers by the center the same evening.
The charges were dismissed by a district attorney at the Giza prosecution office who questioned the drivers.
Drivers are concerned that they will be held liable for any damage caused to the vehicles.
“We’ve signed documents making us responsible for any damage to the ambulances. If anything happens to them, or anything goes missing from them, we’ll be in trouble, driver Ali Mahmoud told Daily News Egypt.
Driver Sayyed Morsi said that they were not given an opportunity to remove personal belongings from the ambulances before they were taken.
Workers expressed anger at what they view as a betrayal by Ambulance Center bosses, and said that they feared the center planned to make them redundant.
Manager of the Medical Emergency Unit Mohamed Fathy denied that the decision to remove the ambulances from the center had anything to do with the strike.
“This center was never meant to be permanent. We have redistributed the ambulances, as it’s not logical to keep them all in one place. They should be spread out over several areas in Cairo so they can respond more quickly, Fathy told Daily News Egypt.
As for the drivers themselves, Fathy said that their future with the center depends on the outcome of a test scheduled to be held Sunday.
“Drivers’ driving skills will be evaluated Sunday. Driving an ambulance is not just like driving a minibus, there are other skills required. Those that pass the test will be kept on, those that don’t will be let go, Fathy said.
Workers however questioned how an evaluation of their driving skills could take place after they have been driving ambulances for eight months – during which time they were involved in the ferrying of injured Palestinians to and from the Rafah Crossing to hospitals in Egypt – and voiced their fears that the evaluation would be used as a pretext to end their employment.
Driver Omar Abdallah also told Daily News Egypt that 15 workers will be subject to an internal disciplinary panel.