ICLD workers protest after rejecting new gov’t contract

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CAIRO: Around 1,000 Information Center for Local Development (ICLD) employees were prevented from reaching the public prosecution office on Wednesday by police officers who penned them in outside Cairo’s Lawyers’ Syndicate.

On Monday a delegation of ICLD workers rejected a new employment contract drawn up by the Ministry of Local Development. ICLD worker Sayed El-Badawy explained that workers’ primary objection is to a clause in the contract that states that employment contracts “may” be renewed each year.

El-Badawy added that the new contract does not have retroactive effect and makes no provision for the annual social raises.

ICLD workers were going to the public prosecution office in an attempt to file a complaint against the government demanding that workers be granted the health insurance benefits that have accrued in the nine years since they were appointed.

Last month ICLD workers were informed that they would be transferred to the Ministry of Health. The decision was rejected by workers who described it as an attempt to avoid implementing a May agreement that increased 32,000 ICLD workers’ salaries from LE 99 per month to a minimum of LE 320.

El-Badawy said that the plan to transfer workers to the Ministry of Health has been “cancelled”, adding that three ministries are involved in the long running dispute.

“There are three ministries involved in our problem. The Ministry of Local Development is the ministry we belong to, the Ministry of Finance is pressing for some of our incentive payments not to be paid out so that we’re not a burden on the budget, while the Ministry of Administrative Development is resisting our being appointed as permanent state administrative employees so that we do not increase the current number, which stands at 6 million,” El-Badawy said.

Workers say that they have received verbal promises from government officials that some of the disputed clauses in the new contract will be amended.

According to El-Badawy, however, workers’ demands that the contract be described as a “continuation” of previous contracts was rejected because, “this would allow [us] to raise a case for outstanding financial entitlements”.

Protesting workers initially expressed their intention not to end the demonstration until they received a copy of the revised contract but began dispersing after security officers demanded that they leave the area.

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