Transport Union suspends strike after meeting manpower minister

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CAIRO: The Independent Union for Public Transportation Workers suspended on Tuesday a week-long, nationwide strike following a meeting with Ministry of Manpower.

It wasn’t immediately clear what both sides had agreed on, but another meeting was scheduled for Oct. 10 to discuss further demands. The strike is suspended pending the results of Tuesday’s and Oct. 10’s meetings.

The strike, which featured the participation of thousands of drivers, conductors and technicians at the Cairo Transport Authority (CTA), gained momentum when drivers and conductors at the Greater Cairo Company, also run by the CTA, joined on Monday.

By press time on Tuesday, the number of the garages that would abide by the Union’s decision wasn’t clear, according to lawyer Haytham Mohamadein. Two garages in the Nasr City district announced the suspension of the strike.

This meeting comes two days after Prime Minister Essam Sharaf promised to solve their problems within hours. Minister of Manpower Hassan El-Borai had said on Monday he won’t negotiate unless the strike is suspended.

In Tuesday’s meeting he union representatives that the 200 percent incentives, promised to all public sector workers, would be delivered within 10 days. The finance ministry is to take care of the details, he reportedly said.

The rest of the demands are to be discussed on Oct. 10.

"I will remain on strike until an official paper from the Prime Minister’s office is distributed to all garages stating that the Independent Union for Transportation Workers has agreed with the minister on a timeline for implementing our demands," said Sherif Salah, a driver at El Mounib garage in Giza.

He added that not all striking drivers and conductors have delegated the union to discuss their demands with the minister, yet they will abide by the agreement.

In addition to the 200 percent incentives, drivers demand new uniforms, upgraded buses to provide better services, security during their shifts, better bonuses, better retirement compensation and sustained insurance payment.

The striking drivers also asked that the Public Transportation Authority to be under the Ministry of Transportation instead of the governorates, to be treated equally like their counterparts in the Metro and Train Authorities.

"I cannot say whether this is a victory for the public transportation workers or not, until we see what’s going to happen next. As for whether they will suspend their strike that depends on what decisions they collectively take this evening after they all receive the agreement," Mohamadein told Daily News Egypt Tuesday afternoon.

Mohamed El Sayed, who was on strike, explained that it was difficult to take a decision regarding whether they will end their strike or not as none of them are aware of the content of the agreement.

Workers frustration increased as the government tried to downplay the scope of the strike.

They demanded that the government set a timetable to find solutions for the employees’ problems, pointing out that the officials were only concerned about ending the strike rather than finding real solutions.

According to El-Borai, the strike has led to losses estimated at LE 1 million per day. He added that meeting the workers’ demands will need more than LE 140 million.


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