Workers’ slogan: We want our plants back after we were sacked
Arbitrary dismissal and overdue salaries for months are the most important workers’ objections
Many companies profited millions of pounds, however, they were sold and their workers sacked
ECESR held today afternoon a press conference entitled “Workers’ Demands to the Third President”, and under the slogan “We want our plants back after we were sacked”. It was held in partnership with a number of companies and different professions’ representatives (the Suez Canal Container Company in Port Said, Polyurethane Industry Inc. in Port Said, Bohira Joint Stock for Land Reclamation Inc., Starch & Glucose Company, and Travel co. for Tourism, as well as white taxi owners and drivers.
Ayman Abdel Muti, a member of Towards a Just Labor Act campaign, introduced the conference, saying: “the workers’ concerns date back to the time when the government started abandoning the policy of hiring new workers in public and government sectors. It started it through following the privatization policy that led to getting rid of thousands of workers, declaring insolvency and liquidating some of them in preparation for sale. This process had culminated in promulgating the Unified Labor Act that encroached on the remaining of labor rights for the benefit of investors.” He stressed that the conference goal was to make workers’ voice heard; create the widest possible space for solidarity with them, and that the workers’ demands will only be met through protests, organization and collective solidarity.
Regab Aboul Gheit, a Starch and Glucose company worker, took the floor and said: “Our Company is made up of two plants, one overlooking the Nile with an area of 7 acres and with monthly 2 million pounds profit. However, the company was sold for 170 million pounds, and after that workers were made redundant and the company was declared insolvent.”
I was arbitrarily sacked in 2012, and yet no official intervened to return me back despite the fact that the former Manpower Minister Kamal Abu Eita told me that the dismissal decision was illegal and that he would intervene, he added.
“We want nothing but our legal rights; this can only be achieved through reinstating us to our work,” He stressed.
Mahmoud Abdel-Hamid, a white taxi driver, said: “we have documents proving our right but nobody wants to solve our problem. The accumulated debts on taxi drivers are caused by the government, not us; the government is the home-wrecker of 40 thousand families—the drivers’ families. Some said that the Ministry of Defense or Tamarod had paid the indebtedness of drivers, but this is not true; the truth is that many lawsuits have been filed against most of the drivers because they were unable to pay the installments. We have borne the brunt for more than 3 years: many taxis were stolen during the revolution’s days and when we complained to the police, they ordered us ‘Go pay the ransom and take back your taxi’. If you want to upgrade the country, solve the problems of people who have suffered for years.”
Mahmoud announced that a protest would be held on Wednesday, June 25, in front of the Council of Ministers to submit the drivers’ demands.
Saber Medhat of Travel Co. for Tourism said: “The Board Chairman Amani Torgoman dismissed one thousand employees over 3 years; we have no other demands except being reinstated.”
Islam Abdel Razek of Bohira Joint Stock Company called for paying the overdue salaries since December 2013 until now, reinstating the dismissed workers, the dismissal of corrupt officials and holding them accountable, and the abolition of holding companies.
Kilani Ahmed of Polypropylene Inc. said: “After signing the collective labor agreement between workers and management in the presence of the Minister of Manpower, who signed the agreement, the company has dismissed 26 workers, 13 of them were on official leave during the sit-in. Further, the administration locked out the company and suspended their salaries. Our lives were at stake during the revolution because we made shifts to guard our factory. We want nothing but the rule of law and holding the officials, who dismissed workers and caused the deterioration of their conditions, responsible.”
Mohammed Abdullah, a worker at the Suez Canal Container Company in Port Said, told the conference about the arbitrary dismissal of 8 workers without previous warning or investigation in spite of being on leave. We had several demands, including profits and end of service benefits, but before the date of negotiation the company decided to sack the 8 workers. Our primary demand now is the return of our colleagues who were dismissed arbitrarily.
The conference concluded with a word of Ziad Bakri, an ECESR lawyer. He warned that the situation is as it is, not changed; the regime did not fall and therefore the policies are as they are—pointing out that there are three systems need to be changed:
- Protection and facilities granted to the investor
- Encroaching on workers’ rights and dismissing them
- Legal legislation that protects the investor and does not guarantee the rights of workers, along with the absence of a law enforcement authority that implement the pro-labor court decisions