Tuesday, June 29, 2010

General Union Abandons Ahmonseto Textile Workers

Around 400 workers from the Ahmonseto Textile Company protested today outside the state-controlled General Union for Textile Workers in Shobra el-Mazalat, these workers also announced their intention of extending their protest into an open ended sleep-in. This delegation of workers had contacted General Union President, Saeed el-Gohari (a member of Mubarak's ruling party,) days earlier and had requested to meet him so as to resolve their numerous grievances.

Upon their arrival, however, these workers were surprised to find that none of the general union council members were present. Angered by the response of the general union, the workers chanted slogans against this yellow union council, against Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Minister of Manpower Aisha Abdel Hadi, and all their "empty promises."

Some 1,200 workers at the private sector Ahmonseto Textile Company, located in the Tenth of Ramadan Industrial City, have been left unemployed since June 2008, after the owner of the company - Adel Agha - fled from the country and from a lengthy prison sentence.

Another 500 workers at the Economic Company for Industrial Development, a subsidiary company within Ahmonseto have resorted to a system of workers' self-management. The ECID workers are struggling to maintain production, while all production has ceased in the rest of the company.

Ahmonseto workers have been calling for the liquidation of the company and the provision of early retirement packages, compensations, and end-of-service payments from Bank Misr which took possession of the company following Adel Agha's flight. The Ministry of Manpower and the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation have both repeatedly reneged on promises to compensate these workers.

Following numerous protests and lengthy sleep-ins outside the upper house of parliament, the Ministry and the ETUF pledged to liquidate the company and provide the workers with LE 106 million, but during a parliamentary session on May 23 these authorities announced that they would be given only LE 50 million. Police forces were immediately deployed en masse outside both houses of parliament and moved to arrest, assault, and forcefully disperse the Ahmonseto workers, along with a number of other workers from different companies who were protesting and sleeping-in outside parliament.

This is the first protest that the Ahmonseto workers have staged in Cairo since the government's violent crackdown in May.

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