Egypt's Aluminium workers continue Naga Hammadi sit-in

Bassem Abo Alabass, Sunday 12 Jun 2011

Striking employees in Upper Egypt repeat the demands of April 2010 protests, asking for wage restructuring and the resignation of some senior staff

Naga Hammadi
Courtesy of El-Wasat party

More than 1,000 employees of Egypt’s Aluminium are continuing their sit-in at company headquarters in Naga Hammadi, Qena demanding concessions from Sayed Abdel-Wahab, firm chairman and CEO.

"The protests started on Saturday when we were just a few dozen," says Effat Bahig, one of the workers taking part.
 
Protesters are making several demands, among them an increase in bonus payments, a restructuring of financial allowances, jobs for their sons and the resignation of administrative managerial director, Abdel-Razak Morsy.
 
"There was a ministerial decision to raise wages of workers in 2003, we want to apply this decree retroactively," says Bahig, adding that the current chairman refuses to negotiate with them
 
"He is in Cairo not in Qena," he says.
 
Egypt's Aluminium management deny the protesters represent the overall will of their staff.
 
“We have more than 8,000 workers in the company and the majority of them rejected the invitation to the sit-in and kept up production,” says Yehia El-Maghrabi, director of the engineering department.
 
El-Maghrabi says that employee wages have been raised to an average of LE2,500 over the last nine months.
 
“The real problem I see in the company is not adding the bonus to the main wage. It's one of the workers' legal rights to ask for it,” El-Maghrabi told Ahram Online.
 
In April 2010, protests for the same demands involving 6,000 of the company's workers caused disruptions in factory production. 
 
Egypt’s Aluminium more than doubled net profits of LE379.4mn during the first nine months of the 2010-11 fiscal year, compared to the same period of 2009-2010.
 
Adel El-Mouzi, commissioner at the Ministry of Public Enterprises, said that the cost of responding to demands from workers since the January 25 revolution is now LE1.5 billion and this will rise if further demands are met.
 
He added that the period from the 1 January to 13 March this year saw the total net profit of public sector-affiliated companies drop by 63 per cent compare to the same period the previous year. 
 
With an annual production of 245,000 tonnes, Egypt's Aluminium's plant is the largest producer and exporter of aluminium in the the country. It is situated in Naga Hammadi, more than 600km south of Cairo.
 
Several factors were taken into consideration when Nag Hammady was selected as the site of Egypt's Aluminum's complex. One was its proximity to the High Dam and to the Naga Hammadi electrical substation, 326km from Aswan.
 
Also important was its easy access to the port of Safaga and the availability of skilled and semi-skilled labour in the area.
 
There was also a social consideration, with the development representing an attempt to raise the standard of living of this part of Upper Egypt through industrialisation and job opportunities.
 
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