Workers from a cement factory in Aswan, Upper Egypt, were attacked on Sunday by security personnel from the factory, a statement released by the Centre for Trade Union and Workers’ Services (CTUWS) said. More than 350 workers announced a strike last Friday after factory management refused to negotiate the demands put forth by workers.
The workers went on strike to demand amendments to holiday entitlements, adjustments to staff salaries, and the appointment of short-term contract workers.
CTUWS said the factory’s management and director of security decided to end the strike by force, using live ammunition to intimidate the striking workers.
CTUWS said the factory owner had promised on more than one occasion since 2003 to amend staff salaries and hire 250 short-term employees. The Centre said there are no laws which regulate the time off staff can take, adding the employees are often subjected to 26 consecutive days of work, 12 hours a day, without any additional compensation.
CTUWS added that the workers receive eight days of unpaid leave and earn roughly EGP 35 a day. Workers are also said to lack clean drinking water at work, forcing employees to drink water from a nearby well.
CTUWS “declares solidarity with the legitimate demands of the workers from the Aswan Cement Factory”. The Centre called the attempt to intimidate the strikers an “attempt at terrorism” by the factory owner. They added that the owner’s actions had created the possibility of “bloody battles between the families of the workers and the factory owner’s family”.
CTUWS said that it feared that the attack on the strikers could prompt retaliation from tribes associated with the workers.