Work has stopped at “Universal Home” as its ownership is being transferred to the Italian ‘Ariston’. Workers: Management is requiring our resignation before paying our salaries.

 

Work has stopped at the Universal Home Appliances factory, owned by Universal for Engineering Industries, on Sunday, February 4, 2024, due to the start of procedures to transfer its ownership to the Italian company “Ariston Thermo,” amid fears among workers about their potential situation after the ownership transfer.

Universal’s management has been since June 2023 in the process of transferring ownership of the factory, which employs about 400 workers, while trying to force them to sign a resignation from Universal in exchange for signing new contracts with Ariston and receiving their salaries due tomorrow, Monday, February 5, 2024. The contract is supposed to transfer full ownership to activate it. Meanwhile, there are rumors of laying off 5% to 10% of the workers before the ownership is transferred to the Italian company, according to some of them who spoke to the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights.

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

Moreover, Some workers expressed fear of the new owner laying them off after the transition, due to their health conditions resulting from work, such as some suffering from diseases including herniated discs and others.

Some workers mentioned going to the labor office in October to file complaints against the company’s management for attempting to force them to sign a mandatory resignation, in addition to rumors of laying off some of them.

According to Article 9 of Labor Law No. 12 of 2003: “The closure, liquidation, or bankruptcy of an establishment shall not prevent the fulfillment of all obligations arising therefrom under the law, and the integration of the establishment into another, or its transfer by inheritance, will, gift, sale – even by public auction – or descent, lease, or otherwise, shall terminate the contracts of employment of the establishment’s workers, and the successor shall be jointly liable with the previous employers for the fulfillment of all obligations arising from these contracts.”

Previously, Universal’s management continued to refuse to pay the dues of workers in several factories, leading dozens to file lawsuits against it, which the management responded to by arbitrarily dismissing them without paying their dues.

The Egyptian Center, the legal representative of some of Universal’s workers, began obtaining initial judgments from the Cairo Court of Appeal on October 6th of October in a number of appeals pending before it, which constituted a new judicial victory for the group of workers in the company.

The court rejected the company’s appeal and amended the judgment to specify the value and amount of the late dues of the workers during the period of litigation on the two grades until the date of the judgment, and upheld the first-instance judgment regarding their continued work, which is a major and rapid victory considering that it is much less than the usual time frame in such lawsuits before the courts.

The court was convinced and firmly believed, through the documents presented and the defense of the Center’s lawyers, of the workers’ injustice and their inhumane situation in comparison to the global economic crisis and inflation, and the judgment was decisive and conclusive in affirming that the workers did not violate the law and did not breach it according to various Egyptian laws, and that the company’s claim that the workers were striking to disrupt work is nothing but a baseless and unreasonable claim.

The workers have been suffering for a considerable period before filing the lawsuits, whether those filed by the company to dismiss the workers or by the workers themselves, and because they are truly and accumulated victims for a while, they anticipated everyone and exhausted all possible avenues before resorting to the labor court by filing a complaint to the Ministry of Labor, which, in turn, sponsored an agreement between the company and the workers to schedule and pay their dues. They also filed a complaint with the Human Rights Committee of the House of Representatives and the Prime Minister’s Office, in addition to their complaint to the labor office of the Giza Labor Directorate.

The primary judgments were issued in the sessions of the Second Circuit Workers of the South Giza Courts at the end of December, on the days of 27/28/29, followed by the remaining judgments, all of which were appealed by the workers, represented by the lawyers of the Egyptian Center defending them, in addition to appeals by the company at the same time, so that the lawsuits were considered together before the appellate circuits of the 6th of October Court.

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

The different circuits of the court decided to combine each worker’s lawsuit and the company’s lawsuit to issue a separate decisive judgment in each of them, until those judgments were appealed to the Court of Appeal, whose judgments have begun to be fair to the efforts of the lawyers of the Egyptian Center and the workers alike.