Cement workers set palm trees ablaze in fiery protest

Hundreds of temporary employees at the new Assiut Cement Company in Upper Egypt on Wednesday lit palm trees on fire along a road and railway in protest.

Demanding permanent positions, they used the flaming palm trunks to stop traffic on the Assiut-Cairo Highway and the railroad crossing near Menqebad village on the road leading to the company.

Central Security Forces used tear gas, live ammunition and bird shot to break up the sit-in, witnesses and factory workers said. The protesters responded with Molotov cocktails.

At least eight people were injured and seven others were arrested.

The workers had staged a sit-in to push for a profit-sharing agreement similar to those enjoyed by their colleagues in Helwan and Alexandria, and permanent employment for temporary workers. The employees then escalated the protests after company executives failed to respond to their demands despite previous pledges to do so by 3 May.

The workers complained the administration had displaced their colleagues and forced many into early retirement.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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