Monday,11 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1260, (27 August - 2 September 2015 )
Monday,11 December, 2017
Issue 1260, (27 August - 2 September 2015 )

Ahram Weekly

Policemen back to work

Policemen called off their strike in Sharqiya after reaching an agreement with the Interior Ministry, reports Ahmed Morsy

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Al-Ahram Weekly

On Monday policemen in the Nile Delta governorate of Sharqiya ended a sit-in after the local security directorate informed them that Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb had agreed to comply with their most urgent demands by 5 September.

Hundreds of low-ranking policemen took part in the sit-in which began on Saturday at the provincial security directorate in Zagazig. Among their demands were better healthcare facilities and the payment of incentive bonuses that had been due in June and July.

The strike quickly expanded, with six police stations closed as the protestors demanded colleagues halt work in solidarity. When officials still failed to respond to their demands the striking policemen called for Interior Minister Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar to be dismissed.

Bakr Abdel-Karim, the interior minister’s assistant for media, relations and human rights, said the closure of police stations was “unacceptable” and blamed the sit-in on Muslim Brotherhood agitation among non-commissioned policemen.

Mehleb commented on the strikers’ demands during a televised interview aired by the privately owned Al-Hayat TV channel. While he seemed to sound a conciliatory note, saying police officers have a crucial role and “we can’t be late in answering their demands,” he concluded the interview by describing those demands as unrealistic, “especially at a time when we are fighting terrorism”.

Security around the security directorate in Sharqiya was intensified on Sunday with the deployment of riot police. Following arguments between protesters and security forces, the riot police attempted to disperse the demonstrators by firing tear gas. The striking policemen responded by firing gunshots in the air. A handful of injuries were reported on both sides.

On Monday TV anchor Ahmed Moussa claimed on air that their salaries have been raised in recent years to reach LE7,000 a month.

“Moussa falsely claimed our salaries range between LE6000 and LE7000 a month,” Ahmed Mustafa, spokesperson of the low-ranking policemen coalition, told TV anchor Wael Al-Ebrashi during a telephone interview on Monday.

“I have been working for the Interior Ministry for 25 years and my monthly salary is LE3100. Moussa gave a false figure in an attempt to sway public opinion against us. I tried to make a call to Moussa’s TV show to make it clear but the producer refused to take it,” says Mustafa.

Policemen’s associations in Alexandria, Assiut, Giza, Fayoum, Ismailia, Kafr Al-Sheikh and Qalyoubiya issued statements in support of the strikers and delegates from Cairo and Sohag joined the protest in Sharqiya.

Negotiations within the directorate failed to halt the standoff which was only resolved on Monday when the protesters ended their strike after the Interior Ministry promised to look into the protestors’ economic demands.

The Interior Ministry’s press office said all striking personnel had left the vicinity of the Security Directorate on Monday and all police stations were fully operational. The ministry subsequently issued a statement saying the low-ranking policemen had expressed “their pride in belonging to the police apparatus, and appreciation of their colleagues’ sacrifices”.

“We called off the strike after the governorate’s security directorate promised our five most important demands would be met by 5 September,” says Walid Al-Mohamadi, spokesperson for the strikers.

 Mustafa adds that the protestors will hold “an urgent meeting on 5 September to discuss the developments”.

Abdel-Karim insists the situation is “now under control” and the police are “doing their job effectively”.

“I urge all security personnel to place the interests of the homeland over personal interest,” he said, adding that the ministry appreciates the role of all its employees and “there are legitimate channels to present complaints.”

This is not the first time low-ranking policemen have taken action to demand better pay and working conditions. In February 2014 protests in Alexandria and Kafr Al-Sheikh resulted in the temporary closure of the Kafr Al-Sheikh Security Directorate.

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