Workers at Suez Steel end month-long strike

Marwa Hussein, Thursday 22 Aug 2013

About 2,000 employees resume work after steel company promises to release three detained workers and allow fifteen others to return back to work

Suez Steel
Army soldiers in front of Suez Steel company in August 12. (Photo:Reuters)

Work resumed Thursday evening in Suez Steel Company after hours of negotiations.

The 2,100 steel company employees in strike since 23 July accepted to resume work after the company promised to release the three detained workers and allow for the 15 suspended to return to work.

Egyptian police arrested in two days three workers, one of whom was taken from his house around dawn Thursday.

''The Suez governor promised to release our colleagues on Friday. If not, workers might go on strike again,'' Walid Hassan, a worker at the steel company, told Ahram Online.

The employees were initially demanding a share of the company's profit, higher allowances for dangerous jobs and health care.

Since the strike started in July, the month-long round of negotiations, involving the workers, the administration, governmental representatives as well as army generals, have not helped to yield a settlement.

''Safety measures are not applied in the factory. One worker died from an electric shock nine months ago,'' another worker, who asked to remain anonymous, told Ahram Online.

''We didn't get a share of the company's profits since 2007. We only asked for the equivalent of six months of wages as profit for 2012, we reduced our demand by 4 months but still the administration refused,'' said Walid Hassan.

Fifteen employees, nominated to be the representatives of the workers, were suspended from work.

''We lowered the ceiling of our demands, but the administration refused the deal,'' said Walid Hassan.

He added that the employees offered to resume work in case the administration allowed the 15 suspended to return to work, waive the suit cases filed against workers and pays July salary, but the administration refused.

Ahram Online was unable to reach the Suez Steel administration to comment.

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.

On 18 August, the Egyptian police and army stormed the workers sit-in and arrested two workers that were released on bail two days later.

Different political movements and parties issued statements in solidarity with the workers.

Suez Steel Company was acquired by Red Sea Steel Group in 2007, later named Solb Misr (Egypt Steel).

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