The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) won this week court rulings in favor of three Cellulose Company workers estimated at LE 90.000 in damages for wages.
For 24 months of work without pay and with all kinds of injustice and abuse of their rights since November 2012, the workers of the global company for producing Cellulose have refrained from bringing their case before justice. They thought the financial crisis had something to do with a temporary financial hardship or other compelling reason which was beyond the company management’s control. So, they continued work and refused to disrupt production.
During this hard time they demanded their due payments, but the company management took an intransigent position. When all their attempts ended in failure, the workers resorted to the ECESR to bring their lawsuit to justice in order to oblige the company to pay their dues in arrears. After only two hearings, the ECESR succeeded in wining a court decision that held compensating the workers with up to LE 90.000 for the wages in arrear, as well as compensating three workers . In response, the company management was forced to negotiate with the rest of the workers to drop their cases in exchange for paying their entitlements.
Articles 38, 41, and 45 of the Labor Code 12/2003 provide for a number of safeguards to protect the worker’s wages and the stability of the working relationship, since workers do not represent only themselves but also their families, which are affected by the instability of this relationship. Article 38 stipulates that the wages and other benefits payable to workers are paid in a work day and in workplace. Article 41 confirms that the worker who comes to his workplace on time and is ready to perform his/her work, but the employer prevents him/her from performing his/her work, is regarded as fully performed his/her work and then deserves his/her full payment. Further, if he attended and prevented from work by compelling reasons beyond the control of the employer, he should be entitled to half of his/her wages. The employer shall be liable unless the worker signed on the payroll record, Article 45 stipulates.
Although the Labor Law includes criminal penalties , they remain nominal financial penalties and fines that do not guarantee the implementation of the provisions of the law.
Although the ECESR appreciates such court decisions, it appeals the decision-maker to amend and replace the penalties enshrined in the Labor Law with tougher penalties, especially in cases of encroaching on labor wages.
 Rulings No 56/2014, 43/2014, and 251/2014 Giza Labor Court of First Instance
 Articles from 237 to 257
* Photo: Hossam el-Hamalawy