Sarah Carr reports:
Non-teaching staff within the Ministry of Education protested Monday on the steps of the Journalists’ Syndicate against the ministry’s decision to deny them a 50 percent pay increase.
Holding up banners reading “We demand a decent wage and equality” and “A minimum wage is the right of all,” members of the committee for the defense of the rights of administrative staff and workers within the Ministry of Education reiterated their demands for parity with teaching staff.
Monday’s protest is the fourth protest by administrative workers since the formation of the committee.
Fathy Abdel Fattah, an administrative worker from Suez and one of the founders of the committee told Daily News Egypt that administrative workers from Mahalla who had been planning to attend the protest had allegedly been prevented from leaving Mahalla by security bodies.
The committee was founded in July 2007 after a promise by the Ministry of Education that administrative staff would receive a 50 percent pay increase was subsequently retracted by the Finance Minister.
“The Finance Minister claims that administrative staff in not entitled to a pay increase because we receive an examinations bonus equivalent to a pay rise,” Atef Hassan Muhammad from the governorate of Suez told Daily News Egypt.
This bonus is a sum given to administrative staff for the performance of examinations-related administrative tasks.
“But it isn’t something we can rely on. It’s not paid if we’re sick for example. It’s incorrect to classify it a fixed part of our wage,” Muhammad continued.
Muhammad, who has four children, told Daily News Egypt that after 20 years of employment as an administrative employee he earns LE 360 per month.
“We live in a remote area and the children have to take the school bus every day. This alone costs me LE 150 a month. On top of that I have to pay for their private tuition,” Muhammad told Daily News Egypt.
“How do I make ends meet? I have to work a second job in the evenings to try and make a bit of extra cash. Of course I’ve thought of leaving my job but where could I go? What alternatives do I have?” he continued.
Administrative staff allege that their union has failed to back them.
During a press conference last week, Abdel Fattah told Daily News Egypt, “We have completely discounted the syndicate and in fact consider ourselves as not having a syndicate.”
Abdel Fattah told Daily News Egypt that after the committee began protest action he received a letter, in April, from the Ministry of Education, which he showed to Daily News Egypt.
The letter refers to a 2003 decree issued by the Prime Minister which bans strikes by workers employed in “vital and strategic installations.”
“Please respect the ban on strikes and on calling for strikes in educational facilities,” the letter says.