Egypt: Update on the Mansoura-España Garments Company workers sit-in

Male and female workers occupy the Mansoura-España Garments factory.
Male and female workers occupy the Mansoura-España Garments factory.

Update on the occupation of more than half the workers at the Mansoura-España Garments Company, previously reported on libcom, which has now lasted continuously for over a month.

Submitted by Ed on May 24, 2007

Taken from the 3arabawy blog by Egyptian writer Hossam el-Hamalawy.

The parliament discussed Wednesday the crisis at the Mansoura-España Garments Company, as its workers’ sit-in continues, with roughly 150 workers (out of 284 total labor force) still sleeping night after night on the factory floors, with little food and medical supplies.

I still don’t have details about what happened, but it seems the Parliamentary Manpower Committee members grilled the NDP’s Hussein Megawer, the head of the General Federation of Trade Unions, Said el-Gohary, the head of the General Union of Textile Workers, and Nahed el-Ashri, the Labor Minister office director, in the presence of the head of the Factory Union Committee at the Mansoura-España, Magdi el-Maghrabi and his deputy.

I still need to confirm this: The MPs reached a deal with the government by which the Labor Ministry is to force the owning bank Al-Masraf Al-Muttahid to pay the workers the 2006 May Day grants. That would roughly be LE110. There will also be a “social raise” by LE30. (3alawa Igtima3iya is the annual raise in basic salary the workers should receive to cope with inflation, in theory of course. The bank stopped paying the May Day grants and social raises since 1999.)

A two-month ultimatum was given to the bank to pump money into the factory to continue production. If the bank does not demonstrate the willingness to do that, and decides to sell the firm, then the ridiculously low two-month compensation for every year of employment will be REJECTED. The workers had complained their low monthly salaries (the highest of which could reach LE250) meant the final compensation they’ll receive was ultra-low. Instead they were demanding a compensation of ten months for every year of employment. The agreement reached with the government includes the intervention of the Labor Ministry to make sure the compensation is “at least” 10 months.

More details later…