Work at Egypt's Al-Dekheila Port partially suspended

Marwa Hussein , Saturday 1 Oct 2011

Workers of the Alexandria Container and Cargo Handling Company have suspended work at Al-Dekheila Port on the Mediterranean, claiming promises to meet their demands have been broken

Some 450 workers of Alexandria Container and Cargo Handling Company, a public enterprise, suspended work on Wharf 96 Saturday afternoon in Al-Dekheila Port, close to Alexandria. Workers who spoke to Ahram Online by phone said the escalation came after promises to respond to demands workers raised in April were broken more than once.

For three days, part of the working force commenced a sit-in, while 11 embarked on a hunger strike.

Workers’ anger increased after the quorum for the general assembly to discuss their demands Saturday was not met. Most of the demands concern winning back rights workers enjoyed until the mid-1990s. The main demand of the workers is an increase in their share of annual profits to 20 per cent, as it was in 1994, from 10 per cent as it is now.

“Until 1994, the workers’ share of profits was 20 per cent. Then the administration decreased it to 15 per cent, and later to 10 per cent, the minimum according to the law. The president of the holding company told us after our first protest in April that our demands are legitimate and would be fulfilled, but nothing concrete [has come since],” said Ahmed Sadek, president of the independent union of the company, formed after the January 25 Revolution.

According to the law, workers take part of the profit as direct payment and the remaining part goes to other items, equally important for the workers, like family healthcare, supplementary pension, end of service remuneration, and other services like housing.   

The workers' second demand concerns the payment of what they call an incentive bonus that used to be paid to best performers 10 per cent of the workers each year, up until 1995. The workers also require that years of working by contract before recruitment be added to the overall working years. “Some workers worked for 11 years with contracts, and in many cases under unfair contracts,” says Sadek.

Sadek added that workers are determined to regain these rights, whether the general assembly meets its quorum or not, though the workers haven’t decided on the next step in their struggle.

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