12 Sep 2011

Cairo strike: Drivers join shutdown of university

Students at the American University in Cairo (AUC) began a strike yesterday, objecting to a rise in tuition fees. Workers demanding higher wages joined the students. University security workers, cleaning workers, staff and students, took part in a demonstration at 1 pm on Sunday. The demonstrators chanted, “Our university is a university of thieves”.
University bus drivers joined the strike to complain about salaries that do not exceed LE850 per month and working hours that can be up to 16 hours a day without overtime pay. Security workers also joined the strike to demand higher wages, an hour break and risk compensation pay. There are also complaints that many temporary workers are not having their contracts renewed.
The Facebook page promoting the strike claims the university wastes money by unevenly distributing money, as some faculty members are paid very high salaries whilst other employees and workers are poorly paid. The page argues that tuition fees constitute only 30% of AUC’s budget, so their reduction should not affect workers’ wages, which the students demand should be increased.
The group which initially called for the strike encouraged students to organise a sit-in during the first week of classes and protest in front of the administration building, as they did on Sunday, only pay the first instalment of fees, not attend classes, encourage professors to join the strike, and refuse to talk or negotiate with the administration until their demands are met.
Students have erected tents on campus in preparation for an open-ended strike and released a statement stressing they are part of the Egyptian movement and the national student movement. The Egyptian Student Union has declared solidarity with the strike. 
Photos by Gigi Ibrahim at:

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