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Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Victory for workers in struggle to renationalise Egyptian factories

Court refuses govern appeal against decision to renationalise factories; the final hearing will be on 15 February

Randa Ali , Wednesday 4 Jan 2012
Workers of Tanta and Shebeen el Koom
Workers of Tanta and Shebeen el Koom factories waiting for the hearing on appeal decision at the court of council ‎of state.
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The government appeal against the court ruling to renationalise the Shebin El-Kom Textiles Company and Tanta for Flax and Oil was rejected by the court on Wednesday.

Tens of workers gathered in front of the State Council Wednesday morning anxiously waiting for the court hearing.

The prosecutor refused the appeal issued by the government, transferring the case to the board of state commissioners for the final hearing on the 15 February.

On 21 September the court ruled that both factories be renationalised, and the government promptly issued an appeal.

The decision is the latest victory for a labour movement working against privatisation and for greater workers’rights.

“Investment has made our life hell!” chanted the workers waiting for their trial to begin.

“The Shebin El-Kom Factory was sold in 2004 for 120 million Egyptian pounds when it was worth 500 million,” said engineer Wael El-Ganayni, present at the protest. “Nationalising the factory is against the interest of the government as such a step would expose the corruption behind their deal with the investor,” he added.

Indonesian investor the Indorama Group bought Shebin El-Kom factory in 2004, and in 2005 Tanta’s factory was bought by Saudi investor Abdel-Ilah El-Kaaki. Workers have been protesting the deterioration in their wages and working conditions that followed privatisation.

When the Tanta factory was privatised, 750 workers were forced to take retirement. Workers at Shebin El-Kom factory are now deprived from the annual bonuses that they used to receive when the factory was under state-ownership.

Mohamed Kamel Sales Manager at the Tanta Factory’s Cairo branch says, “They’re accusing us of scaring foreign investors away from the country. If they care for corrupt investors like Ka’aki, who lay off workers and deprive them from their rights, then we’re definitely better off without it!”

“Workers are pleased with the court decision but are determined to continue protesting till demands are met. We'll go for a sit-in at the ministry of investment, we need to pressure Prime Minister Ganzouri to hear our voices,” said one of the workers outside the court.

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