CAIRO: Workers from Information Centers for Local Development say they will continue the sit-in they began Saturday outside the People’s Assembly until they are made permanent employees.
Some 200 men, women and children had gathered on the pavement opposite the People’s Assembly on Sunday, the second protest in less than a month.
Information Center employee Abdel-Meneim Sharaf Eddin explained to Daily News Egypt his grievances.
“I work as a data gatherer and am paid LE 150 per month. I was appointed in 2002 during a government contest when all of us – 32,000 people – started working in the Information Centers in 29 governorates, Sharaf Eddin said.
“For eight years now they’ve been telling us ‘we will give you permanent contracts next year’ and the year after that they tell us the same thing. We want permanent contracts and parity with other government employees, Sharaf Eddin said.
Workers say that because they are on temporary contracts they are deprived of essential benefits such as health insurance and a pension.
Sharaf Eddin explained that Information Center employees are contractually forbidden from taking on second jobs, adding, “I’ve got three children. I have to. I have no choice.
Badreyya Abdel-Rahman, 30, from Beni Suef also condemned her treatment in the Information Center where she has worked for eight years, and where she earns LE 99 per month.
She was particularly critical of her employer’s refusal to grant her maternity leave when she gave birth, saying, “I had to take 40 days unpaid leave.
Sharaf Eddin said that securing alternative employment is not an option he would consider.
“If I left the Information Center where would I go? Should I just throw away the eight years of my life I’ve invested in the Information Center? And who will be held accountable for 32,000 people wasting eight years of their lives? he asked
He added that workers have been “knocking on doors for improvements in their conditions since 2005. Sharaf Eddin said that the Information Centers were created as part of the government’s vision of becoming an “information technology government, but that none of the Centers have computers.
The workers ended their last 12-day sit-in outside the PA on March 31, 2010 following promises by Abdel-Salam Mahgoub, minister of local development, that funds would be invested to improve pay and conditions and workers made permanent.
The sit-in was suspended in order to give the government two weeks to make good these promises.
“We want to be made permanent employees; people have had enough, the prices of everything are going up in Egypt – we just want to be treated like other people, Sharaf Eddin said.
“Not a single promise has been kept. This is why we’re here today. We won’t move from here until we have a piece of paper from the People’s Assembly which says that we’re permanent employees.