23 December, 2008

Steel workers statement

Workers at Helwan Steel Mills released a statement criticizing the decision to allocate 1 billion of the company's profits to establish a new factory for reinforced steel. They claim this has created a financial crisis in the company, to which the management responded by cutting wages and bonuses. One of the workers also claim that the management plans to pressure a number of workers to accept early retirement in April next year.

12000 workers at the factory was reported to have entered a pay strike in March which was however suspended after one day. Hossam al-Hamalawy wrote back then:

Let’s remember that the last major industrial action in the Helwan mills was the 1989 sit-in… Mubarak back then sent in his police troops, which broke the protests by live ammunition, killing one worker, Abdel Hai Sayyed Hassan, and arresting hundreds… There has been however increased activities on the factory floor, located south of Cairo, since the outbreak of the Winter of the Labor Discontent… Underground leftist organizers have been agitating for improving the work conditions, and drawing parallels with the textile workers in Mahalla, in previous statements that were distributed in the factory

More action was expected in April but it seems it never materialized - maybe as a result of the crackdown in Mahalla on 6 April?

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