Due to poor planning, thousands of Egyptian university workers are going unpaid

London - Over 4,000 employees of Egypt’s Workers University are working without pay due to negligence, poor planning and failure to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Education, according to ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies, which is calling on the government to find immediate solutions.

The employees of the university, which is affiliated with the Workers Cultural Foundation of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation, are victims of the institution’s worsening financial crisis, which triggered a lack of liquidity. In May, the university began paying its staff only half of their rightful compensation; salaries and wages stopped completely in September. In response, employees organized a sit-in inside university headquarters in Nasr city, east of Cairo, as well as in branches in other governorates.

 In May, Workers University began paying its staff only half of their rightful compensation; salaries and wages stopped completely in September.

Employees are demanding that the university be placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Manpower or the Egyptian Cabinet. The government then should pay back wages and create a reliable mechanism to assure future payment. Otherwise, workers and their families will not be able to support themselves.

The Workers University crisis began in 2015 when the Ministry of Higher Education ordered the university to stop awarding bachelor’s degrees due to improper operating procedures. For example, the ministry stipulated that a board of trustees must be established and the curriculum further developed. Until those actions were taken, the ministry limited the university to granting intermediate diplomas.

The trade union federation, managed by the heads of the general unions, failed to fulfill the ministry’s requirements and thus the university’s economic situation worsened. The number of students enrolled in the university fell dramatically from 35,000 to approximately 1,000.

Later that year, the university stopped paying employees allowances and other incentives, including cost-of-living adjustments. Employees went along at the time, hoping the university would implement recommendations from many committees to retore the health of its finances and be fair to workers.

The university partially satisfied the ministry’s requirements by forming a board of trustees, which announced on 1 October that that the headquarters building in Asyut would be put up for sale, with an asking price of 500 million Egyptian pounds.

Now, ImpACT calls on the Workers University's development committee to finalize a plan to update its curriculum and teaching methods as soon as possible, thus allowing it to obtain approval to accept new bachelor’s degree students and alleviate the financial crisis. The think tank also called on the Egyptian government to promptly come to the immediate aid of employees, most of whom have no other source of income.

Egypt must fulfill its obligations under the Protection of Wages Convention ratified by its government in 1949, which mandates the payment of wages and the expansion of unemployment benefits to workers who suffer loss of earnings due to even a partial cut in hours.

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