File photo: Egypt soldiers in Suez (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Police arrested two workers at a Suez steel company on Monday who have been accused of leading strikes, a company official told Ahram Online.
Following the arrests, the striking workers tried to block a key highway from Suez to Ain Al-Sokhna, but were prevented by the Egyptian army.
The two workers arrested were part of a group of fifteen accused by company management of inciting workers to strike, said Mohamed Soliman, head of legal affairs at the private sector company.
The workers have been on strike at their factory in Al-Ataqa industrial zone in Suez for three weeks, demanding higher bonuses and allowances.
Suez Steel is a private sector company which employs 2,200 workers on contracts and another 2,000 day workers, according to Soliman, who added that the workers' syndicate committee had resigned after failing to mediate between the workers and company management.
Last week, the company threatened to cut down its workforce in response to the strike, claiming profit losses worth LE925 million over the past three years.
Suez Steel was established in 1997 and was 80-percent owned by Banque du Caire.
The company was privatised in 2007 and purchased by Solb Misr which is owned by Gamal El-Garhy, a prominent Egyptian businessman.
Currently, Solb Misr owns subsidiaries Misr National Steel and Egyptian Company for Iron & Steel Products alongside Suez Steel.
Solb Misr, along with Beshay Steel and Egyptian Steel share 35 percent of the market.
Ezz steel is the dominant steel producer in Egypt and MENA with around 55 percent of the local steel market.
Steel imports represents the remaining 10 percent.
Solb Misr's steel production capacity stands at two million tonne per annum.