Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The curse of privatisation

Om Tamer is looking downcast. She greeted me hurriedly and when I returned later not only was she gone, but the mini-cafeteria was completely emptied of any snacks, drinks or even bottles of water. I suddenly remembered the decision of the time-honoured Ain Shams university president Ahmad Zaky Badr to rent all of the mini-cafeterias to some private franchise!
The employees in each department of the Faculty of Arts earn their living by selling snacks and drinks to staff members and students besides having the keys to all the rooms and lecture halls and cleaning. Once the cafterias are rented...their source of income will drop to the lowest low...These employees, much like many workers in Egypt, are underpaid, many of whom are still classified as "temporary workers" and receive some 300 LE though they have families and have to pay for all the shit each one of us goes through every single day. The lucky among them are permanent and they are paid around 500 LE, so you can pretty much guess how crucial having this "tiny business" is for them. As if the meagre salaries are not enough, the university president has now issued this decision. As if he is envious that they have beans for breakfast, the cheapest food in Egypt, and wants them to fast instead!
The president would probably claim that the university is short of resources, and that this is a good step. I just do not understand why making the 'university' richer has to be the expense of those poor wretches. They work daily for up to 12 hours and do no enjoy any priviledges whatsoever. They bear being transported, carrying heavy loads, being humiliated without having the power to utter a word in protest or even in agony. After all this, after being our servants, if not slaves for tens of years, the university president has decided that they should be sacrificed just because the 'university' is poor. This money isn't going to open computer labs for the students, subsidise their books, add new books to the library, install data shows or ACs in the lecture rooms. This money isn't, for God's sake, going to enlist Ain Shams University among the most distinguished 500 universities in the world. This money is the first step towards laying off all of these employees who are too weak, disease-ridden and powerless to defend themsleves!
One of the professors wondered when she knew about this deal: No one cares for the poor anymore?


marooned84 said...

Instead of facing the main problem (meager salaries) they try to work around it by selling snacks. This is why strikes are made, you know.

To be honest I didn't sympathize with them. I know it's a statewide problem, but that doesn't mean you as an underpaid worker can't do anything about it. Encourage them to strike, not to sell snacks. That's what I would call a solution.

Wild at Heart said...

They are too weak and "3'alaba" to do anything. They believe that the Dean has the power to sack them anytime he wants that's why they remain silent. I believe it will not end here. I will update the blog if anything turns up.