Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Protests mushroom nationwide

Protests mushroom countrywide
Tue, 30/03/2010

Scores of people demonstrating before Egypt's parliament building in downtown Cairo on Tuesday--for a host of different reasons--threatened to step up protests if their parliamentary representatives failed to address their demands. In recent days, the sidewalk opposite the parliament building has become the site of six independent demonstrations.

Employees of cabinet-affiliated information centers, whose sit-in has now entered its eighth day, complain that they have worked for nine years without receiving health insurance or financial incentives. They were also angered by the recent dismissal of a colleague from his job at the Daqahliya Information Center for taking part in the demonstration, and threatened to resign from the ruling National Democratic Party.

Only meters away, a group of physically-challenged people also maintained their days-long protest to demand jobs in accordance with the law, which stipulates that both public- and private-sector companies must allocate five percent of job vacancies to those with special needs. They also demanded residential units in public housing projects and permits to open small-size businesses.

Agriculture Ministry employees also continued their protest in demand of salary raises, while 300 workers of Al-Maasara Company for Manufacturing Telephone Equipment urged the government to take over ownership of the company from its foreign owner, who, they say, plans to liquidate the firm.

Meanwhile, 30 young subscribers to the Mubarak National Housing Program--launched as part of President Hosni Mubarak's electoral platform--also staged protests against the government's failure to provide them with housing units on schedule.

Employees of the public socialist prosecutor's office likewise maintained their protest against their planned transfer to jobs within the court system, for which they say they are overqualified. The public socialist prosecutor's office was established by the government in 1971 as an exceptional form of prosecution, especially in corruption-related cases. The office was abolished by parliament in 2008, with its authority being transfered to the attorney general.

Similar demonstrations were also reported in several areas outside Cairo.

In Tanta, some 1500 railway workers declared a strike after failing to receive promised bonuses, bringing trains in and around the city to a halt for more than two hours. Also in Tanta, roughly 400 nurses of the Tanta University Hospital continued protests for a third day to demand higher salaries.

In Daqahliya, meanwhile, about 200 nurses from a local hospital suspended their strike until 1 April. They demand that the hospital hire a security company to protect them from harassment after a nurse was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant inside the hospital.

In Alexandria, employees of Egyptian steel manufacturer Ezz Steel agreed to call off their strike after company officials promised to meet their longstanding demands for salary readjustments and bonuses.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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