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Universal factories strike enters its third day… Workers: Management rejects to increase our salaries, which are less than half of the minimum wage


The strike of workers at “Universal for Engineering Industries” in all the company’s factories entered its third day on Friday, February 16, 2024. It included the “Cooker Assembly,” “Feeding Industries,” “Ovens,” “Factory 24,” and “Factory 5000,” to demand an increase in their wages considering their financial circumstances in light of price inflation.

The workers demanded a wage increase of 1000 pounds for each worker especially since their wages are less than half of the minimum wage recently set by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi However, the management decided to grant them an increase of only 500 pounds, which the workers rejected, insisting on their demands that were agreed upon in the negotiations with the management.

More than 2500 workers joined the strike, confirming that the factory owner is not suffering from any financial difficulties preventing him from paying the wages especially after selling the home appliance factory, which manufactures heaters, to the Italian company “Ariston” for an amount of up to 2 billion pounds.

Work had stopped at the Universal home appliance factory a subsidiary of Universal for Engineering Industries a subsidiary of Universal for Engineering Industries due to the start of procedures to transfer its ownership to the Italian company “Ariston Thermo,” amid workers’ fears about their possible conditions after the ownership transfer.

Since June 2023, Universal’s management has been taking steps to transfer the ownership of the factory, which employs about 400 workers, while trying to force them to sign a prior resignation from “Universal” in exchange for signing new contracts with “Ariston” and paying their due salaries tomorrow, Monday, February 5, 2024. At the same time, there are rumors about dismissing 5% to 10% of the workers before transferring ownership to the Italian company, according to some of them who informed the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights.

Universal’s management sold the production assets of the electric heater, which is completely manufactured and produced in its factories, while the gas heater, which is imported in parts and assembled, will be transferred to one of its subsidiaries along with a number of workers.

Some workers also expressed their fear of the new owner dismissing them after the transfer, due to their health conditions resulting from work conditions, such as some of them suffering from diseases including slipped discs and others.

A number of workers indicated their intention to go to the Ministry of Labor office in October to file complaints against the company’s management regarding attempts to force them to sign mandatory resignations, as well as rumors of dismissing some of them.

According to Article 9 of Labor Law No. 12 of 2003: “The fulfillment of all obligations arising according to the law shall not be prevented by the termination, liquidation, closure, or bankruptcy of the establishment and the integration of the establishment into another, or its inheritance, will, gift, sale – even if by public auction – descent, lease, or other transactions, shall not result in the termination of the employment contracts of the establishment’s workers, and the successor shall be jointly liable with the previous owners for the implementation of all obligations arising from these contracts.

Previously, Universal’s management continued to delay the payment of workers’ dues in a number of factories, prompting dozens to file lawsuits against it, which the management countered by arbitrarily dismissing them without paying their dues, before they obtained court judgments allowing them to continue working.

Continuing its role in defending the rights of workers in Universal Company, the Egyptian Center for Economic Rights obtained initial judgments from the Cairo Appeals Court in 6th of October cases, forming a new judicial victory in favor of a group of workers.

The court rejected the company’s appeal and amended the judgment to determine the amount of overdue payments to workers during the progression on two ranks until the date of the judgment, and upheld the first-instance judgment regarding their continued work, which is a significant victory and in record time, as it is much less than the usual time frame in such cases before the courts.

The Center filed and handled a total of 120 labor lawsuits, half of which were filed by the Center’s lawyers as representatives of the workers, and the other half were filed by the company against the workers at the same time.

The Court’s several circuits decided to combine the lawsuits of each worker and the company to issue a single decisive judgment. Appeals were filed against these judgments before the Court of Appeal. whose judgments started to be fair to the efforts of the Egyptian Center’s lawyers and the workers alike.

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