The leaders of the Independent Public Transport Authority Workers Union which represents tens of thousands of bus workers in Cairo were ambushed and seriously injured in an incident at the Public Transport Authority Headquarters in Nasr City, Cairo on 29 February.
Adel al-Shazly, the independent union president, Mohammed Abd-al-Sattar, union treasurer and Tareq Mohammed al-Sayyid, union spokesman, were among those badly injured by knife-wielding thugs from the old state-controlled Land Transport Union who set on them as they arrived to present bus workers’ demands to Mona Moustafa, head of the Public Transport Authority.
The independent union led several strikes in 2011, including a major dispute in September, demanding improvements in pay and conditions for workers, an end to corruption in the Public Transport Authority and investment in the bus fleet to improve the service for passengers. The union has recently organised a number of big protests outside the Public Transport Authority and is preparing for strike action if its demands are not met.
The attack comes at a time when strikes by bus workers have been spreading across Egypt. Hundreds of bus drivers from the West and Central Delta bus company in Alexandria have been on strike since 20 February, demanding the complete re-nationalisation of the company and its removal from the semi-privatised Holding Company for Land and Maritime Transport. The director of the Holding Company is retired General Mohammed Youssef, who workers say has been accused of stealing company funds and backdoor deals to sell off company property. The workers are also demanding pay rises and better conditions.
One of the strikers explains in the video above that basic pay is 343 Egyptian pounds a month. “What can you do with 343 pounds?”, he says “A month’s rent is 200 pounds, which leaves less than 150. How can you feed a family on that? The head of the Holding Company is telling the TV channels that we’re being paid 1200 pounds a month. I’d like to know where this money has gone!”
Meanwhile bus workers in the Upper Egypt Company for Travel and Tourism based along the Red Sea coast entered their tenth day of strike action on 3 March. Like the West Delta bus workers they are demanding to be brought back directly under the authority of the Ministry of Transport, as well as rises in wages and investment in maintaining the bus fleet.
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