The undersigned organizations declare their solidarity with residents and workers harmed by the Alexandria Portland Cement factory (Titan Cement) in the Wadi al-Qamar area of Alexandria, as they file a complaint against the company with the Office of Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, which finances Titan. The CAO is the accountability mechanism that considers complaints filed by individuals or local communities that sustain environmental and social damages in connection with projects funded by the IFC.
The IFC requires clients receiving its financing to meet its Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability throughout the duration of the IFC investment, but this is not the case with Titan Cement. Local residents have been harmed by the cement plant’s ongoing violation of the performance standards, which is inconsistent with the compliance with IFC’s policies on environmental and social sustainability. As one local resident says, “We’re frustrated by the continued financing of the plant despite the problems it causes us, as if the IFC is rewarding the plant for its poor performance, or as if the regulations the IFC set for the environment and workers are just ink on paper.”
The complaint, filed by Wadi al-Qamar residents on April 8, details Titan’s violation of standards related to environmental protection and how pollution from the plant, which is adjacent to a residential area, harms local residents’ health, lives, and livelihood. The pollution has also affected neighbouring food industries that are older than the cement plant, thus expanding the damage and health risks to consumers of these foodstuffs in other areas. In addition, local residents have growing concerns about Titan’s intention to begin using coal at the plant, which will further increase pollution, as well as the risks of climate change. The residents have waged a legal battle against the company in which they have proven that Titan has violated several Egyptian laws and decrees.
The complaint also details Titan’s violations of worker’s rights. The company has sought to increase its profits by cutting its formal workforce. It has also denied workers taking early retirement their benefits and discriminates between its formal employees and contracted labor, although they do the same work. Titan has violated Egyptian laws as well as international conventions and International Labor Organization agreements that uphold the right to the strike. Titan has broken strikes by worker and caused the dispersing of a peaceful sit-in with force, after which the company fired and arrested the strike leaders.
In the complaint, local residents requested the plant be moved out of the residential district. They also demanded compliance with Egyptian laws, compensation for harmed parties, and treatment of the environmental pollution in the area. Plant workers asked for an end to the discriminatory treatment of workers contracted through labor supply companies and that they receive all profits, wages, and benefits to which they are entitled. Workers further urged the company to open channels for social dialogue and collective bargaining between workers and management, and stressed the need to comply with national laws and international agreements.
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
- Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
- Egyptian Center for Civil and Legislative Reform
- Association for Health and Environmental Development