Drivers at the Public Transportation Authority (PTA) held a demonstration Saturday in front of the Press Syndicate to demand the inclusion of the authority under the Ministry of Transportation.
The authority is currently under the umbrella of the Cairo governorate, a placement the workers rejected. They demanded to be included either with the Ministry of Transportation or the armed forces.
Tarek Al-Behiry, head of the independent syndicate of public transportation, commented that the “measure used to work in the 1970s, but now we need a more general and effective umbrella that benefits the workers”.
The chants included slogans calling on workers to “wake up and demand his rights”.
The workers, Al-Behiry said, demanded bonuses to the salary and compensations for holidays, as well as the amendment of articles related to “not including the authority workers in the new Civil Service law”.
They accused the PTA of violating their rights, facilitated by the lack of direct supervision by the Ministry of Transportation.
Al-Behiry added that Saturday’s demonstration should be considered a warning for the government to start considering their demands. “Otherwise a full strike will start at the beginning of the new year,” he said.
“The PTA officials don’t want to be under the supervision of the ministry so they can steal our money,” one worker said.
Workers said they wanted to start a strike, but decided to delay it “due to the critical situation the country is going through, specifically the status of tourism”. However, they added that the government should mobilise and respond to the demands of the workers, to avoid any “unnecessary clash”.
One of the workers who preferred to be anonymous, said: “We do not have official ministry representation, and that is causing serious problems.” He cited demands such as pensions that are worth 100 months of salary, instead of the 28 months the PTA gives, as well as better health care, and compensation for the risks “they face in their jobs, like other government employees”.
Officials from the authority were not immediately available for comment. Last August, workers at the authority rejected a decision by the finance minister to exclude authority workers, doctors and teachers from the Civil Service Law. Al-Behiry said: “We refused to protest at the time, fearing people will label us as members of the Muslim Brotherhood”.
In 2012, the government considered plans to convert the authority into a holding company in order to increase its revenues, and to solve a current funding gap.
Converting the PTA into a holding company was one of a series of demands brought up during recent labour strikes. Low wages, deterioration of the PTA’s assets, in addition to its failure to consistently renew and update its fleet of trucks, were all factors leading workers to call for privatisation.
The PTA’s budget for the 2011/2012 fiscal year stated that the authority suffered from an EGP 455.6m deficit, while revenues that year totalled EGP 1.215bn, EGP 860.8m of which was provided by the state’s treasury.
On average, salaries for bus drivers range from EGP 300 to EGP 500 depending on the years they have been working. 10% of all salaries are deducted monthly for pensions, according to the workers.