By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: As labor strikes continued, the Egyptian Trade Unions Federation (ETUF) said Sunday that it will schedule a meeting with Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq to discuss labor problems and the future of syndicate activity in Egypt.
The ETUF board members agreed in their emergency meeting following “political developments in the country” that syndicate heads would compile a list of their demands and present it to the ETUF’s board on Tuesday which will, in turn, present it to Shafiq.
Meanwhile, workers continued their protests and strikes across Egypt demanding better wages and an end to corruption.
In Cairo, tens of employees from the Egyptian Company for Agricultural and Rural Development and Forestation workers gathered in front of the Ministry of Agriculture demanding the appointment of staff on temporary contracts.
Workers said their wages range between LE 40 and LE 259 and some of them work on four-month renewable contracts.
Employees at the General Authority for Veterinary Services protested in front of the ministry demanding the resignation of newly-appointed manager, Mona Mehrez, accusing her of corruption.
“She was discharged from the Animal Health Research Institute after employees there complained about her corruption but she was shortly appointed as the head of the authority,” said Omar Abdel Moneim, an employee.
In Helwan, 400 workers from Textile Equipment Company went on strike demanding the increase of incentives and annual profit shares and the implementation of delayed promotions.
In Menufiya, workers at Masr Menufiya textile factory organized a sit-in in front of Mubarak industrial zone’s insurance office in Qwesna to protest against the exclusion of the 10 percent annual raise from their salaries.
About 1,000 workers from the Egyptian-American Steel company in Sadat City organized a sit-in for the second consecutive day demanding an increase in their wages and obtaining health insurance and meal incentives.
“We are trying to compile these problems and we will discuss it with the prime minister,” said Hussein Megawer, head of ETUF.
“The ETUF is an independent syndicate organization and we refuse the politicization of our work and being affiliated with any political party,” added Megawer, a National Democratic Party (NDP) MP for Maadi.
The board said they support the demands of the revolution and described reform policies of the previous government headed by Ahmed Nazif as a failure.
Megawer participated in protests supporting former president Hosni Mubarak in response to anti-government protests in Tahrir Square. He is accused by workers of corruption and restricting syndicate activity due to his close ties with the NDP.
The Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services (CTUWS) previously filed a complaint to the Prosecutor General requesting an investigation into the sources of Megawer’s wealth.
They accused Megawer of exploiting his position as president of ETUF and chairman of the manpower committee in parliament as well as combining his post as president of ETUF with his post as a member of the Board of Directors of Suez Cement Company.
According to CTUWS, the Public Funds Prosecution started its investigations and asked all concerned authorities to provide their certified records.
Megawer denied these accusations, stressing the integrity of his 46-year-long career.
“There was a similar complaint filed against me in 2008 and was investigated by the public prosecution but they found nothing,” he said.
The Independent Syndicate for Real Estate Tax Workers organized a protest in front of the ETUF, demanding the resignation of Megawer along with the federation’s board.
“The federation has become a center for fighting the activities of labor syndicates. Now we are demanding an investigation into its corruption and demanding the resignation of its board and allowing workers to form their independent syndicates freely,” said Kamal Abu Eita, head of the first independent syndicate in Egypt.
“Megawer is part of a regime that has lost its legitimacy during the current revolution. That’s why we are demanding his resignation and an investigation into the sources of his fortune and his $2 million annual income,” Kamal Abbas, general coordinator of CTUWS, previously told Daily News Egypt.
Five ETUF board members filed a complaint to the Prosecutor General on Saturday requesting an investigation into “Abbas’ secret activities, financed by foreign entities in order to execute a plan threatening the security of the country through the denigration of the official trade union organization, sowing discord among workers and destabilizing enterprises by bringing production to a standstill.”
They also demanded the closure of the CTUWS in Helwan and its regional offices in Mahalla, Tenth of Ramadan and Nagaa Hammadi.
CTUWS in a statement called on all workers to quit the ETUF and join its newly established Egyptian Federation for Independent Syndicates in collaboration with a number of labor leaders including the independent syndicates of real estate tax workers, health technicians, teachers and a pensioners’ union.