Egyptian Iron and Steel workers (Photo: Bassam Al-Zoghby)
In reaction to accusations of corruption and negligence within the Egyptian Iron and Steel Company (HADISOLB), Mohamed Saad Negeada, chairman and managing director, has defended his record in interview with Ahram Online.
“Any corruption allegation within the company is investigated. Anyone who has information concerning corruption cases I do not know about can report it to the prosecutor general,” said Negeada.
Negeada said that the deterioration in the performance of the company over recent years, marked by declining production, was not the fault of the company’s administration but a consequence of a shortage in coke needed to operate blast furnaces.
According to Negeada, the shortage is due to a decrease in production of the Coke Company — once affiliated to HADISOLB, for technical reasons.
“The coke produced by the Coke Company is made specially to meet the requirements of the Egyptian Iron and Steel Company. We have launched many tenders to buy coke from other suppliers, but the specifications were not the same,” he added.
Negeada said the production of the Coke Company increased by 10 per cent during recent days, allowing the company to fulfill up to 50 per cent of HADISOLB's needs.
“It will increase gradually as maintenance work is in progress in the Coke Company."
For the last two years, only one blast furnace out of four has been operating at the HADISOLB factory, resulting in a substantial decrease in production and profits.
Thousands of workers at HADISOLB in Helwan, south of Cairo, are on strike since Monday while the company’s syndicate has been staging a sit-in at the headquarters of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation since four days.
Workers, who have been holding sit-ins since 26 November, decided to escalate their action after the Metallurgical Industries Company, HADISOLB's holding company, failed to respond to their demands to make good on delayed profit shares.
Official sources have indicated that negotiations involving several parties, including the Metallurgical Industries Company, the Ministry of Investment, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Manpower, are ongoing to find a solution to liquidity problems.
Saad El-Shelehi, member of HADISOLB’s union, told Ahram Online that workers are expecting a visit by Minister of Manpower Kamal Abu-Eita Wednesday night.