The workers at the Egyptian and Iron Steel Company (EISCO) went on a total strike demanding 15 months worth of annual profit shares, four delayed bonuses for this year, the dismissal of the board of directors and the return of transferred and dismissed workers from previous strikes.
The workers began their strike on Saturday with a modest number of protesters chanting “for enlarging the capital, the workers were slaughtered.”
On the second day the number doubled reaching, more than 11,000 who suspended operations at the steel oven, completely halting all production, said Bassem Fawzy one of the protesting workers.
“Ten percent of our incentives were cut for no clear reasons, we are that money was sent to any of Egypt’s supporting funds,” Fawzy said.
Echoing Fawzy, the workers' lawyer Haitham Mohamadien said that the strike was preceded by another big one at the “cook” company which provides the EISCO with all cook needed which doubtlessly weighed on the production because of 20 month delayed profits, but the company responded to the striker’s demands and gave them 15-month profits.”
Mohammedien pointed that the cook’s strike was the move that triggered the workers of EISCO to launch a strike along with other 13 companies of the Egyptian Holding for Metal Industries (EHMI), including Al Nasr, which manufactures steel pipes and hammers, which are waiting EISCO’s feedback to the massive protest.
“The company offered the workers with some incentives, but they didn’t end the strike because those incentives are a basic part of their salaries so they are not a new deal,” Mohammdien said. “The protest is big and taking place in a time the country believes that they have been silenced with the protest law, but the cook and S&I strikes are a launch for Egyptian workers and bigger protests.”
Meanwhile, in a press statement the head of the management sector Mohammed Abdel Wahab emphasized that the strike has completely suspended production in the oven, rolling strips, steel adapters and prevented the customer vehicles from loading the sold items.
Abdel Wahab pointed out that the EISCO is trying to re-operate those sections and give the workers their profits and annual profit shares.
Some of the company managers have charged the workers leading the strike with provoking chaos for political interests and attacked them for being leftist “because most of them are young workers.”
Commenting on the company’s statements, the workers issued a statement saying, “We are not leftists and we don’t belong to any political party, we all are workers protesting for only one demand which is our profits delayed.”
Speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm, the CEO of the company Mohamed Saied Negieda said that the company is holding a dialogue with the workers explaining its financial situation, and in spite of the publication yesterday to approve the disbursement of 15 days of incentives, there are other companies losing that have not canceled or lowered incentives.
He stressed that there are some workers that receive incentives of up to 240 percent, and if the EHMI received profits they would not be as stingy with their workers.
“Actually it wasn’t the first labor anger for EISCO, there was another one year ago which was ended by transferring some of protesters to the mines, quarries and the ports which was a kind of punishment,” said Mohammdien.
EISCO is Egypt’s oldest fully integrated public sector steel plant. It is located in al-Tibbin a southern district of Cairo, to the south of Helwan, a city which Nasser turned into an industrial hub in the 1950's.
Having reached 25,527 workers in 1982, EISCO’s labor force was gradually reduced to 13,225 by the end of 2009, which still makes it one of the largest factories in Egypt.