Amid the ongoing two-week anti-Mubarak protests in Egypt’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square, a new protest emerges in the country at one of the worlds most important trade routes. Workers for service companies owned by the Suez Canal Authority began a strike this week, raising fears among some of higher crude prices.
Egypt’s oldest newspaper Al-Ahram reported Tuesday that following their shift, over 6000 service workers of companies owned by the Suez Canal Authority from the cities of Suez, Port-Said and Ismailia staged a sit-in on the grounds of the company’s headquarters. They have vowed not to leave until their demands have been met for better working conditions, as well as salaries and benefits that meet the standard of those directly employed by Suez Canal Authority.
Mohamed Motair, director of companies at the Suez Canal Authority, told Bloomberg Business reporter Abdal Whaba that the strike will not affect the traffic passing through the Suez Canal. Motair informed Bloomberg that the employees involved in the strike are not directly involved in the operations of the Canal, but belong to several related service companies.
Stephen Schork of The Schork Report, a subscription service from the Schork Group so influential that it “can even move the price of oil”, reported that although “OPEC does not control [movement through the Suez], it can steady [prices] by putting barrels onto the market”.
According to estimates by euractiv.com, an independent media portal dedicated to EU affairs, the Suez Canal moves roughly four million barrels of oil each day.
Crude prices have already surpassed the $100 per barrel mark for the first time since October of 2008.