The Egyptian labour movement received another blow as six leaders from the Public Transportation Authority (PTA) were referred to the prosecution on charges of inciting colleagues to strike on condition that economic demands were not met.
The prosecution ordered the detention of Tarek Moustafa, Tarek Al-Beihry, Ayman Mahmoud, Mohamed Soliman, Mohamed Awadallah, and Ahmed Mahmoud for another 15 days.
Al-Beihry is one of the syndicate leaders and has been interrogated and detained several times.
Several workers at the authority have condemned the arrest and detention of their colleagues, commenting to Daily News Egypt that the arrests show “how afraid the government is of the workers”.
The demands included that the authority be run under the Ministry of Transportation, that the head of the authority’s medical affairs sector be sacked, and the issuance of several compensations and bonuses. Some workers were discussing the possibility of holding a strike in January, if the demands were not met.
A lawsuit has been filed the House of Labour and Syndicate Services demanding the release of the workers and refusing their referral to the prosecution. The lawsuit claimed that the workers were forcefully disappeared without a warrant from the prosecution. The lawsuit is expected to be delivered to the National Council for Human Rights as well.
The Ministry of Interior refuted the allegations that the workers were “kidnapped” saying that they were arrested following orders from the prosecution.
The authority is currently under the umbrella of the Cairo governorate—a placement the workers rejected. They demanded to be part of either the Ministry of Transportation or the armed forces.
In 2012, the government considered plans to convert the authority into a holding company, in order to increase its revenues and solve the current funding gap.
Meanwhile, pro-state media have reported that the prosecution detained “six members of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group for 15 days for inciting against the state and urging workers to strike”. Sada Al-Balad, the pro-police privately owned TV channel, said in a Monday report that the members worked to spread disturbance in the first days of the school term.