The leaders of the independent union for public transport workers which represents tens of thousands of bus workers in Cairo were ambushed and seriously injured at the headquarters of the Public Transport Authority (PTA) on 29 February.
Knife-wielding thugs from the old state-controlled Land Transport Union set on them as they arrived to present bus workers’ demands to Mona Moustafa, head of the PTA. Adel al-Shazly (union president), Mohammed Abd-al-Sattar (union treasurer) and Tareq Mohammed al-Sayyid (union spokesman) were among those badly injured.
The independent union led several strikes in 2011, including a major dispute in September, demanding improvements in pay and conditions, an end to corruption in the PTA, and investment in the bus fleet to improve the service. The union has recently organised a number of big protests outside the PTA and is preparing for strike action if its demands are not met.
The assault comes at a time when strikes by bus workers have been spreading across Egypt. Hundreds of drivers from the West and Central Delta bus company in Alexandria have been on strike since 20 February, demanding the re-nationalisation of the company and its removal from the semi-privatised Holding Company for Land and Maritime Transport. The director of the Holding Company is retired General Mohammed Youssef, who has been accused of stealing company funds and backdoor deals to sell off company property. The workers are also demanding pay rises and better conditions.
Meanwhile bus workers in the Upper Egypt Company for Travel and Tourism based along the Red Sea coast entered their tenth day of strike action on 3 March. Like the West Delta workers they are demanding to be brought back directly under the authority of the Ministry of Transport, as well as wage rises and investment in the bus fleet.
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