Striking ceramics workers hold Italian consultants hostage

Ahram Online, Sunday 4 Mar 2012

Workers at Ain Sokhna ceramics factory continue strike into 2nd day as military police fail to secure release of Italian experts taken hostage by strikers

Mohammed Abul-Einein was held captive by the angry workers

Striking workers at the Ain Sokhna Cleopatra Ceramics factory in Egypt’s Suez governorate are holding seven Italian consultants hostage, Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news portal reported on Sunday.

Some 4000 workers, who initiated their strike on Saturday, are demanding salary increases, bonus payments and a share of company profits. Workers also demand that the terms of Egypt’s labour law be applied to the company’s operations.

Workers initiated the labour action after factory management failed to comply with an agreement reached previously under the auspices of the Ministry of Manpower, the Suez governorate and local members of parliament.

The factory, one of the largest ceramics factories in the Middle East, is owned by Mohamed Abul-Einein, a former member of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s now-defunct National Democratic Party. Following Egypt’s popular uprising early last year, Abul-Einein had been summoned for questioning in a number of corruption cases, but was never convicted of any wrongdoing.

According to company worker Mohamed Khamis, military police on Sunday failed to negotiate the release of the foreign experts.

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