By Gehad Abaza
AUC security guards, alongside some workers and students, demonstrated Sunday April 1 demanding their rights after they marched through the university’s avenue.
The demonstrations were linked to an earlier strike that took place last September, in which the same demands were called for.
The continuing low salaries of AUC’s security guards and workers, as well as, the hike in tuition fees for the students were the demonstrator’s main concerns.
“Without compensations, we will not work,” chanted the workers.
The strike ended with the administration agreeing to hold meetings and negotiations with the security guards until their demands are met; they agreed to give final responses during April. Security guards say that “most of the demands were not met” and “the workload has increased.”
For the workers, they were calling for the similar demands, as the strike they held back in 2010. The workers say that, yes, many of their demands have been met through the continuous meetings, but still a few matters are yet to be settled.
Last semester the workers asked for a monthly compensation of EGP 250 instead of their provided meals, which they found unsatisfactory.
“Last month I worked five overtime days, leaving my house at 6:00 am and coming home at 11:00 pm, as well as my usual work, and in the end my paycheck was EGP 900,” said a worker, who preferred to remain anonymous.
During the demonstrations the protestors called for “first and foremost” the resignation of Mahmoud El Zouk, the director of public affairs at AUC. A poster listing the reasons behind this demand is available near the Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSS) building.
The written reasons include the severe disregard to the treatment of the security personnel in the Tahrir campus, the inappropriate application of the break hour, the mal-distribution of the security guards around the gates, as well as the inequality between the workers.
“We do not feel safe with Zouk,” said a security guard, who also preferred to remain anonymous.
“I am okay with EGP 1,000 a month, but Mahmoud El Zouk must leave… this is injustice,” added another worker.
The security and workers also demanded a minimum wage of EGP 2,000 per month. The security guards specifically demanded extra wage for hazardous tasks and bringing back overtime hours.
“There have been lots of meetings in the last period and their demands are clear regarding income. Their biggest concern is that they do not feel safe with the administration, especially with Dr. Mahmoud El Zouk. The workers still need compensations, but the administration says they don’t have money for that now” said Tarek Maghrebi, the director of the worker’s syndicate.
“They want equality between the workers and their supervisor. Also, because they live so far away, they want to combine their vacation days so that they can spend more time with their families (i.e have all four days off at the end of the month),” he added.
Several students demonstrated in solidarity with the workers and the security personnel.
“[I] feel that they are not getting their rights, and I can play a role in trying to help them, get their rights…. We’re here until their demands are met,” said Hossam Sultan, Anthropology major.
On the other side, Dr. El Zouk told The Independent that he is “working with the administration on their demands” regarding the wages and the overtime, which he states has not been removed but is rather according to the workload supervisors give them.
“[However] there are some demands, of course, that I will not be able to discuss with them, like their demand of my resignation,” commented Dr. El Zouk.
The workers and the security personnel are planning to go on a hunger strike, after spring break, if their demands are not to be met.