National train driver strike paralyses Egyptian transport system

In Egypt, the largest train driver strike in almost 30 years has crippled national transport services. Beginning Saturday night, strikers caused trains to stop running from three key cities  — Cairo, the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and Tanta in the Nile Delta — immobilising the network nationwide. As of Monday, nearly 1,100 train trips had been cancelled; this is the largest railway strike in Egypt since 1986.

“Since the start of the strike, passengers have been lining up at ticket booths to get their money back, while transportation police forces have spread around stations to secure the facilities and calm angry crowds,” writes the Egyptian Independent.

Associated Press reports: “The strike began only hours after Transport Minister Hatem Abdel-Lateef approved a 10 percent hike in the bonuses routinely given to all railway workers. The raise was rejected by the train drivers and conductors as too little, sticking to their demands for a salary raise and a better bonus system. They are members of a national union grouping all railway workers.”

According to the Egyptian Independent, “workers are demanding bonuses according to hours of actual work per month, a realistic pay-scale according to kilometres driven, food compensation payments and eight paid days of rest per month.” They see this as their basic right.

This strike follows a clash between protestors and police on Saturday night in Cairo – the latest in mass protest action and striking that has occurred since the ousting of long-standing dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Image via Wikimedia Commons, courtesy Hajor, Dec. 2002.


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