Discord emerges as custodial staff waver on work stoppage

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

DDC workers were one of several groups participating in strikes by Nadine El Kheshen

Custodial workers resumed their protests in front of the administration building, and held a sit-in along side staff employees. The demonstrators were calling for an increase to the EGP 1100 wage raise that the administration had recently adjusted.

The administration had held two meetings with the workers and staff a day before protests began, but many workers remained unsatisfied with the changes, sparking their protest shortly after the meeting began.

Workers later on debated among themselves, agreeing to call off protests and continue working.

Walid Shebl, one of the workers’ representatives, explained the meeting with the administration ended with an agreement to raise the salary to EGP 1100, including EGP 200 for the meal.

Shebl added they had also reached an agreement to extend contracts of workers from one year to three years.

However, there was discord among the protesters, some of whom wanted to continue the strike; others wanted to resume work.

“Some members of the ‘Union of Workers’ and university staff who are accustomed to leading and representing the group in front of the administration building gradually lost their role and they are trying to reappear in the scene by encouraging the workers to protest,” Mohammed Khamis, a workers’ representatives, said.

Director of Facilities and Services Osama , Ahmed Ali doubted that the workers’ union might be the reason behind these protests and said that the workers had already gained many of their demands.

“According to the rules of the university, they had their rights, but they’re trying to change the rules,” Ali explained.

The workers demanded a salary of EGP 1200 in addition to a Egp 200 food allowance, along with Saturdays as holidays.

Despite discontent, many workers who opted to end the strike remain hopeful that these changes will lead to positive improvement in their working conditions.

“This was the first time to meet three heads of the administration including the president of the university, Lisa Anderson… We usually meet with one head only,” Shebl stated.

Custodial workers began protesting in October over pay deductions and the poor quality of their cafeteria food.

Some of their demands, including an increase in salary and Saturday as a day off once a month, were met.