CAIRO: Egypt’s postal workers aired their grievances at a press conference on Saturday, calling for the formation of an independent union.
Some 200 postal workers from governorates throughout Egypt attended the press conference, which was followed by a protest on the steps of the Journalists’ Syndicate.
Ahmed Allam told the press conference that postal workers “are not frightened by “the intimidation of state security investigations. He was referring to the 15-day detention of Mahmoud Faza’a, a postal worker from Ismailia who was arrested after sending a fax to his manager threatening that workers will go on strike if temporary workers are not made permanent.
The demand that the Postal Authority’s approximately 5,000 temporary workers be made permanent is one of three principal demands.
Postal workers are calling for wage parity with workers in the Egyptian Telecommunications Company (ETC) who earn up to three times as much as postal workers.
Workers say that this is inequitable because both ETC employees and Egypt’s 52,000 postal workers belong to the same Ministry of Telecommunications.
“Wages haven’t increased in the last five years while the cost of living has gone up, said Ahmed Hamdy, head of the Fayoum postal workers’ trade union committee.
“New employees get a starting salary of LE 250 a month, he added.
Finally, workers are calling for the abrogation of a new appraisal system introduced earlier this year, which they say allows postal workers to be dismissed unfairly.
Officials at the Postal Authority did not comment by press time after promising to do so.
Last month workers in Kafr El-Sheikh began a six-day strike to draw attention to their demands.
“The strike was the initiative of workers in Kafr El-Sheikh who said ‘we have demands.’ The same demands are shared by all workers in all areas, Hamdy explained.
“We have addressed the general union but unfortunately have had no response, he continued.
During the press conference workers called for the formation of an independent trade union.
They were supported in this by Kamal Abu Eita, head of the recently formed Union of Real Estate Tax Authority Employees, who drew parallels between the postal workers’ grievances and working conditions, and the battle fought by tax collectors for a free union, which Abu Eita spearheaded.
Abu Eita also called on postal workers to form a strike committee to coordinate future strike action.