Egypt: Strikes shut down rail network and workshops

Co-ordinated strikes by train drivers demanding a rise in their bonuses brought much of the Egyptian rail network to halt for seven hours on 17 August. Drivers staged sit-ins across the tracks at a number of stations including Alexandria, Tanta, Zagazig and Cairo’s mainline Ramsis Station.

Military police moved in to break up the sit-in by force late on 17 August, but strikers’ leaders said they would be back on strike again unless their demands were met. Railworkers are in a powerful position, with the end of Ramadan approaching, millions of extra passengers will be travelling for the Eid al-Fitr celebrations. Management offered concessions including raising bonuses by 50% and promised a restructuring of the bonus scheme.

Within hours of the suspension of the drivers’ strike, 3,000 workers in the Abu Za’abal rail engineering workshops had downed tools in a separate dispute over the delayed payment of their bonuses for July. Workers took control of the workshops, locking the doors and preventing anyone from going in or out.

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