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Sunday, 11 March 2018

National Cement Company strike testing Public Enterprises Ministry’s reforms

Striking National Cement Company workers are testing Public Enterprises Minister Khaled Badawi’s goal of bringing private sector management principles to state companies. And we’re glad to see he isn’t bowing down to pressure. Not much else of note on an airwaves dominated by school lunches, talk of expat voting, and football.

Public Enterprise Ministry holds its nerve on public sector reforms: An interesting debate on whether workers’ rights trump bringing state companies in line with private sector management principles is playing out at the strike of at the National Cement Company. Workers are continuing to strike against cost cutting measures by the management. MP Mohamed Fouad told Lamees Al Hadidi that the House of Representatives has requested a briefing about the situation at the state-owned cement producer (watch, runtime: 2:32). Public Enterprises Minister Khaled Badawi called in to tell Al Hadidi that the measures, which include shutting down factory furnaces, were necessary to reduce the EGP 971 mn in losses — the highest at any one state company. Badawi justified cutting employee incentives by saying they had received bonuses of up to 400%, far higher than the figure mandated by the company’s bylaws. He added that the company’s management is considering opening the door for early retirement (watch, runtime: 11:18).

The Education Ministry will start serving school lunches again after service was suspended for nearly a year following a spate of food-poisoning cases. Education Minister Tarek Shawki told Lamis Al Hadidi that the system of purchasing, storing and supplying the meals has been thoroughly updated over the past year (watch, runtime: 4:27). He said the budget allocated to school feeding programs over the year is about EGP 1 bn and that the ministry distributes around 11 mn meals daily (watch, runtime: 9:42).

Immigration Minister Nabila Makram discussed efforts to galvanize expat voting in France, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Italy, Australia and Canada on Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 9:04). Khaled Abu Bakr, who appears to have replaced Nahwand Serry as co-host of the show, also chatted with Al Masry Al Youm chairman Abdel Moneim Saeed to discuss the presidential elections and the Sinai operation (watch, runtime: 37:58).

Relations with Khartoum have warmed significantly over the past few months, especially now considering the potential establishment of a joint force with Egypt to protect borders, Kol Youm’s Amr Adib told viewers (watch, runtime: 2:00).

In another one of the show’s non-sequiturs, talk moved to football. Those who took part in clashes that broke out between Al Ahly club fans and security forces during a match between Ahly SC and Gabon’s CF Mounana in Cairo stadium last week will not be allowed to attend Ahly again, club spokesman Sherif Fouad told Adib (watch, runtime: 40: 07).

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