Several labour groups and parties denounced the violent dispersal of a sit-in by dismissed public sector workers on Thursday.
The workers had been holding a sit-in since Tuesday outside the Ministry of Manpower calling for unemployment benefits, which was dispersed Wednesday after security forces raided the premises.
Khamis Mohamed Sayed, a PetroJet worker present at the sit-in during its dispersal, said a demonstration would be held outside the prosecutor’s office at the High Court at 12.30pm on Thursday.
“A complaint has been filed to the prosecutor against the prime minister, the minister of manpower Kamal Abu Eita and the warden of the Nasr City police station for the use of violence by security forces at the dispersal,” he said.
“We will return to the ministry to commence the sit in once more until our demands are met. What happened was a disgrace on [manpower] minister Abu Eita’s record, who claimed to be an advocate for workers’ rights.”
The minister appeared on a television late Wednesday night claiming that the sit-in was ended in a mutual agreement with the workers.
The protesting workers later denied that claim.
Abu-Eita, a former labour rights leader, went on to say that the “ministry does not have the power to dismiss anyone from their work. And a sit-in implies that a person has some right withheld from him. This is not the case with the individuals outside the ministry.”
“Legislation is being currently studied and will be amended to guarantee the protection of workers from unfair dismissal,” he added.
The ordeal began after The Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) decided to pay a grant of EGP 500 to the unemployed workers. Confusion occurred when Abu Eita thanked the ETUF for paying the monthly unemployment benefits, which quickly triggered a statement in response by the federation, clarifying that it was never their responsibility but the responsibility of the Ministerial Emergency Fund.
A statement by the Social Popular Alliance Party expressed its “amazement” at the decisions being taken by a minister who was “one of the leaders of the workers’ struggle, a person who stood in the ranks of workers, and shared the suffering of state repression on the labor movement.”
Several demonstrating workers at the sit-in were also protesting against their unfair dismissal.
The Permanent Conference for Alexandria Workers announced that they are completely against Abu-Eita’s policies in dealing with dismissed and demonstrating workers.
“The minister, who was falsely thought to be a revolutionary, used violence to disperse the sit-in, something that we condemn,” the group said.
The Egyptian Independent Workers Syndicate, meanwhile, had denounced on Tuesday the threat by security forces, directed at the workers, to violently disperse the sit-in.