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Egyptian authorities back off plan to enlist striking train drivers

April 12, 2013 at 12:40 PM

CAIRO, April 12 (UPI) -- The Egyptian government has abandoned plans to forcibly enlist striking train drivers into Egypt's army, officials said.

On Tuesday, Egyptian Transportation Minister Hatem Abdel Latif issued a "public mobilization" order for 97 striking train drivers after previous attempts to end their strike failed, al-Masry al-Youm reported.

The train drivers have been on strike since Sunday, demanding increased salaries, more time off and other benefits.

However, after solidarity protests and a number of labor lawyers filing legal complaints over the order, the government withdrew its order to force the striking train drivers to enlist in the armed services.

In their complaints, lawyers said it is against the law for the government to issue the public mobilization order because such orders can only be made by the president of Egypt in times of war or natural disaster.

"There was no announcement of a disaster or state of war," attorney Mohamed Adel said. "Furthermore, it was not the president who issued this order for public mobilization. Therefore, this order is null and void."

Lawyer Haitham Mohamadein said this was the most recent incident in a series of labor violations perpetrated by President Mohamed Morsi.

"[Dozens] of unionists and striking workers have been referred to prosecution and criminal investigations for exercising their right to strike," Mohamadein said.

"We've seen also that the regime is willing to crack down against strikes by any means available," he said, referring to the recent use of police dogs against striking cement workers in Alexandria.

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