Workers' protests force Egypt PM to find new home for Cabinet

MENA, Monday 12 Dec 2011

Two groups of angry workers descend on planning ministry where El-Ganzouri Cabinet had temporarily set up shop, force PM and govt to investment ministry

Sit-in by anti-Ganzouri protesters shut access to cabinet since 25 November (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Prime Minster Kamal El-Ganzouri was forced to relocate his Cabinet on Monday afternoon from its temporary home at the ‎ministry of planning to the ministry of investment on Cairo’s ‎Salah Salem Street due to ongoing protests by workers.‎

Workers at the Damietta-based fertiliser factory owned by Misr ‎Fertilizer Production Company in Egypt (‎MOPCO) have been ‎staging a protest at the planning ministry to demand that the ‎factory reopen.‎

For two weeks last month, hundreds of protesters had blocked ‎‎off the port of Damietta to protest the factory’s potential impact ‎‎on public health and the local environment.‎

Protesters decided to stage demonstrations outside the planning ‎‎ministry because that is where the office of the newly appointed ‎‎prime minister is located.‎

They held banners aloft noting that studies by experts had ‎‎proven that the fertiliser factory did not emit waste that might ‎‎damage the environment.‎

They also warned that the factory’s ongoing closure would take ‎‎a toll on Egypt’s economy.‎

Meanwhile, another group of demonstrators, workers from Misr ‎‎El-Menoufiya Textiles in the Nile Delta region, had also ‎ratcheted up pressure on El-‎Ganzouri by congregating outside ‎the planning ministry to demand five ‎months of unpaid salaries.‎

El-Ganzouri, who was recently granted presidential powers ‎except over military and judicial affairs, eventually came out to ‎listen to the two groups’ demands and attempted to placate ‎them.‎

The PM asked Damietta workers to await the findings of a ‎commission tasked with determining whether or not the fertiliser ‎factor posed a health or environmental risk. ‎

‎"I hail from the countryside like you, and I understand your ‎concerns," El-Ganzouri told textile workers, going on to promise both groups of workers that he would ‎look for a swift resolution of their grievances. ‎

He subsequently announced plans to relocate his Cabinet ‎meetings to the ministry of investment.‎

Outside the Cabinet building on Majlis Al-Shaab Street in ‎downtown Cairo, meanwhile, ‎protesters opposed to military rule ‎continued to block the ‎street with an ongoing sit-in – that first ‎began on 25 November – to oppose El-Ganzouri’s appointment.‎

These demonstrations had been the primary reason why ‎the ‎prime minister had originally moved his new Cabinet to the ‎planning ministry. ‎

Short link: