Egypt Cadbury workers get backing of global food employees union
Switzerland-based union pledges support for five Cadbury workers facing dismissal after striking to demand a government-approved pay raise
Ahram Online, Wednesday 29 Aug 2012
The International Union of Food Workers (IUF) has pledged support for five Egyptian employees of Cadbury facing dismissal for allegedly inciting labour strikes.
On 27 July, employees at Cadbury's industrial premises in Alexandria started a two-day strike after management refused to grant a government-ordained 15 per cent raise in wages. Cadbury is owned by multinational conglomerate Kraft.
Five employees were later accused by Cadbury of inciting unrest and causing the company financial losses. They are set to stand trial before a labour court; if found guilty they face dismissal.
On Wednesday, the Switzerland-based IUF and representatives of Kraft workers worldwide sent a letter of solidarity to the Egyptian Democratic Labor Congress (EDLC) promising support to help resolve the issue.
"We are currently fighting Kraft in Tunisia, where the general secretary of the union has been dismissed under similar pretexts as those in Egypt," read the IUF statement.
"The background is similar too: management's intention to destroy a union which fights for the right of its members."
The five workers facing trial are leading figures at the workplace's independent syndicate.
They are the head of the syndicate, Mohamed Sayed; deputy head Nasser Abdel-Reheim; assistant secretary general Hussein Ahmed; treasurer Mohamed Abu El-Ela and his aide Mohamed Mostafa.
The EDLC also condemned Cadbury's tactics and held a press conference earlier in August to demand intervention by Egyptian authorities.
"We are expecting firm action from the minister of manpower against what is being done by Cadbury officials," said a statement from the EDLC.
It added that the main reason behind the strike was Cadbury management's "refusal to grant workers the 15 per cent raise promised in a presidential decree."
On 1 July, President Mohamed Morsi announced that public sector companies would have to grant their workers a 15 per cent increase in wages. Monthly pension payments from companies were also raised from LE200 to LE300.
The EDLC accused Cadbury of punishing members of the independent syndicate to "boost fear among other workers and to get rid of a leader always keen to defend workers' rights."
"They're also trying to destroy the workers syndicate, as it was established against the company's will," the EDLC said.