Egypt: New wave of strikes greets start of Ramadan

Thousands of Egyptian workers have been involved in strikes over the past week, greeting the start of Ramadan with protests and occupations over wages and conditions at work.

Over 500 millworkers from both the Aswan and Ko Ombo Mills, ended their strike on Friday after negotiations with the Mayor of Aswan led to promises to fulfil their demands. Workers demanded pay rises as well as overtime allowances, danger money and bonuses. Workers also demanded that pending promotions that have remained at a standstill for years be moved forward immediately. The workers threatened indefinite strike if their demands are not fulfilled.

Around 2000 workers in the Textile and Weaving company in Ameriyya, near Alexandria were reported to have won a victory on Saturday, after a strike protesting managerial decision declaring Saturday a holiday whilst also cutting shifts from 3 to 2, in what would essentially shave approximately 100EGP off workers wages.  One worker said “this also means that we will no longer receive the meal allowance that we used to get, I don’t know what is really left from our salary”

20 factories paralysed in Ismailiyya

Industry the  “Manteqa Horra” or Free Economic Zone near Ismailiyya – a city of 750,000 on the Suez Canal – was paralysed for days at the end of July with workers in 20 factories on strike. The workers were protesting low wages and as of 30 July both the city’s mayor and the minister of labour had yet been unable to strike a compromise which would  send the workers back to the factories.

The strikes escalated on Thursday 28 July when some managers informed workers that there would be no rise in pay due to the losses that companies have faced recently. The striking workers are demanding a minimum wage of 1200 EGP (£130/month), the provision of full medical insurance for them and better working conditions and treatment from foreign investors in the city.

On Thursday 2000 workers protested outside Ismailiyya Town Hall, as the city’s Mayor met with an army general Ahmad Hussein – detailing further talks the following week between the factory owners and representatives of the striking workers.

Meanwhile army presence in the city of Ismailiyya had incrementally intensifying with each passing day. Clashes occurred on Tuesday between the striking workers and military police in the Free Economic Zone, leaving 36 workers and two soldiers severely injured, and leading to 10 worker arrests.

Television workers protest in Cairo

In an act of escalating protest, dozens of workers tried to take control of the 2nd floor of the State TV and Radio building in Maspero, central Cairo on Thursday 28 July. The workers had held a protest the previous Thursday, protesting a shocking announcement of wages that did not fulfil the promises they were given regarding bonuses and incentives from the minister of Information Osama Heikal. The announcement also held that the number of employees at Maspero would be cut by 20%. Meanwhile sound engineers took strike action on Sunday 31 July and 1 August. .

Helwan Cement workers

Over 150 workers from the Helwan and Tora Cement Companies protested outside Parliament on Saturday 30 July demanding their pensions after early retirement.

The two companies had attempted to pay the workers 39 months’ in pensions as opposed to the 120 months they were promised. The workers brought a case forward to the Court of Appeal, the court ruled that they receive 120 months’ pensions kin to workers that had retired before them at these companies.

One worker Gamal Zaki said, “we’re not begging here, we are demanding that the court ruling of the 17th of May to be upheld, and for all recently retired workers to be paid the120 months.” He added, “ We are here protesting outside parliament, to put pressure on this government to direct the Italian company that runs the cement factories to give us what we are entitled.”

During the sit-in protests outside parliament, the former deputy from Helwan and 15th May district, journalist Mustafa Bakri, came out and told them that he met with the Commissioner of the Italian company and Deputy Prime Minister as well as representatives of the workers to discuss the issue; he proposed a preliminary payment of 39 months and a written paper for each worker detailing entitlement to a 120 months, until things were resolved.

2 thoughts on “Egypt: New wave of strikes greets start of Ramadan

  1. Pingback: Egypt: Worker strikes in Ismaliya Paralyse City (video) | MENA Solidarity Network

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