Update: After two days of striking, workers reach a deal and the free zone area is accessible again.
Hundreds of workers at Leoni Wiring Systems Company entered the second day of their strike on Wednesday, demanding better wages and work conditions.
The company is located in the free zone area in the Nasr City district of Cairo. The area hosts more than 100 different companies.
Workers prevented the employees of all the free zone companies from taking their cars out of the area, allowing them to leave only on foot.
Mohamed Saeed, worker at Leoni, said: “We are fed up with our miserable working conditions. Everything is getting more expensive and we are earning nothing. The company executives earn EGP 50,000 per month and we earn EGP 600, with no annual profit shares, no health insurance, nothing.”
Ahmed Hany, an engineer working for a company in the free zone said the workers deprived him and his colleagues from leaving the area with their cars, describing the strikers as “a bunch of thugs.”
Hany said some employees left the area on foot, while others slept over in the area to protect their cars. He added that striking workers destroyed two buses belonging to one of the free zone companies, as they tried to exit the area.
Hany said: “We called the police several times and they promised to come, but when they came they stood 300 metres away from the entrance, and then they left doing nothing. We want to take our cars and go back home. The upcoming three days are days-off and we can’t leave our cars here.”
Saeed claimed that they destroyed the buses because they tried to run over the striking workers, in an attempt to exit the area. “We won’t allow anyone to leave until our demands are heard. We will raise our demands if they are not met soon.”
The worker said the company raised their salaries by 7% after several negotiations, adding that the raise is not enough. “We want a 20% wage increase, health insurance and an annual profit share. The company earns million every year and we get nothing but humiliation and work-related injuries.”
Saeed asserted that the strike will continue until workers’ demands are met, affirming that they did not and will not attack the employees of other companies. “We are just keeping [the cars here] as a pressure tool to earn our rights.”
Hany confirmed that the workers did not conduct any sort of aggression against him or other employees.