Cleopatra Ceramics strike contained
Workers at Cleopatra Ceramics ended their demonstrations after the company's management pledged to pay workers their financial dues, Nesma Nowar reports
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Cleopatra Ceramics workers demonstrated for a week against delaying the disbursal of their salaries
After a heightened week of demonstrations staged by Cleopatra Ceramics workers against the company's chairman, Mohamed Abul-Enein, workers agreed to end their protests when Abul-Enein promised to pay them their dues.
The compromise, however, does not seem to be satisfactory for Abul-Enein. The business tycoon revealed on Tuesday that he intends to liquidate his business in Egypt due to "mounting problems, the workers' violation of the law and pressures on him and his family", according to Al-Ahram newspaper's gate.
Cleopatra Ceramics workers had been demonstrating for almost a week demanding the disbursal of their delayed June salaries as well as their share of the company's profits. On Monday, the company cleared the workers' salaries including allowances; however, the workers refused to resume work at company factories until Abul-Enein paid them their profits as well.
According to Fathi Yassin, secretary-general of the Factory Workers' Syndicate in Suez, demonstrations were primarily staged because Abul-Enein did not honour his part of an agreement signed with labour representatives in March.
The agreement, attended by the minister of manpower, was signed to end a previous strike by employees from the Ain El-Sokhna factory to demand a share of the company's profits.
The deal, said Yassin, stated that Abul-Enein would pay Ain Al-Sokhna workers a share of company profits equivalent to two months of salary for each of the last three years. This implies paying each worker a LE4,000 bonus each year. The deal also included paying workers' shift, meal and risk allowances.
Yassin explained that the disbursal of profits was scheduled to be paid in three instalments each year. "We received only one instalment and the second one was scheduled in May, which we haven't received yet." Yassin told Al-Ahram Weekly. "That's why we demonstrated," he added.
Yassin stated that workers refused the agreement that the General Authority for Investment (GAFI) struck with Abul-Enein in an attempt to resolve the issue. He said that the agreement did not solve their problems and that they did not sign it.
The GAFI agreement with Abul-Enein included that he would pay the workers their salaries for the month of June 2012 and accordingly workers should resume work at various factories without further interruptions.
Yassin said the workers applauded President Mohamed Mursi's decision to form a committee to run the factories and disburse workers' salaries; however, they were surprised that this decision was revoked later on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Osama Saleh, chairman of GAFI, stated that workers would receive their second profits share instalment today. As a result, Yassin said, workers decided to resume their work at the Suez factories. "If we do not receive our dues today, we will renew our demonstrations," he said.
Yassin pointed out that there is no trust between the company's workers and its chairman and similar strikes could be seen in the future because "Abul-Enein insists on reneging on his promises."
For his part, Abul-Enein stated in a press conference this week that some parties are trying to ignite a crisis inside his factories and that they are instigating demonstrations and strikes. He added that his workers are paid the highest salaries in ceramics factories nationwide.
Egyptian Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud banned Abul-Enein from travelling on the back of labour disputes. Prosecutors are investigating claims his company violated a collective labour agreement, withheld pay, and took measures to prevent workers from doing their jobs.
These were not the first demonstrations by Cleopatra Ceramics workers this year. In March, around 4,000 of the 6,000 workers at Cleopatra Ceramics factory in Ain Al-Sokhna engaged in strike action for better payment.
In May, work at the factory was suspended for 12 days after management stopped the complementary transport that took employees between their homes and company premises.
In response to cutting the transport service, around 4,000 of the factory's employees staged a sit-in in front of the governor's office in Suez city to protest against the company's actions.
Cleopatra Ceramics Chairman Abul-Enein was a member of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's now-defunct National Democratic Party. Following last year's uprising he was summoned for questioning in a number of corruption cases. No charges were brought against him.