Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Six different protests converge on parliament

6 different protests converge on parliament
March 29, 2010

Hisham Omar Abdel Halim

Six independent demonstrations were staged opposite the parliament building in downtown Cairo on Sunday. Although of different vocations, demonstrators shared a common demand--that the government improve their living conditions. They called on President Hosni Mubarak to personally intervene to resolve their respective problems.

Employees of cabinet-affiliated information decision and support centers continued their sit-in for the seventh day in a row, with many donning masks bearing the slogan, "Nine years of injustice." They complain they have worked for the centers for nine years without receiving health insurance or financial incentives.

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 allocate five percent of job vacancies to those with special needs. They also demanded residential units in public housing projects.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Ministry employees staged demonstrations to demand permanent contracts and greater job security. They complain that they have worked for the ministry on a temporary basis for the last 15 years.

Employees of the office of the public socialist prosecutor likewise held demonstrations outside the parliament building to protest a recent decision to transfer them to work in Egypt's court system, a field in which they say they lack experience which puts them at risk of imprisonment. The public socialist prosecutor's office had been established by the government in 1971 as an exceptional form of prosecution, especially in corruption-related cases. The office was abolished by the parliament in 2008, and its authority was transfered to the attorney general.

Finally, Education Ministry employees also staged protests to demand bonuses corresponding to 50 percent of their basic salaries. Roughly 20 private-sector contractors similarly protested against the ministry for failing to pay them for completing construction projects for which they had been contracted by the ministry.

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