CAIRO: Thirty-two factory workers have been arbitrarily dismissed from their jobs after protesting both the dismissal of a colleague and the failure of their employers to provide pay raises to which they are entitled.
Safaa Qandeel, an employee at El-Hennawy Tobacco factory, Damanhour, was dismissed following allegations that she ripped up her employment papers when she refused to relinquish her claim to a pay raise.
“We are entitled to a pay raise instituted by a presidential decree issued in 2003 which states that all companies which can afford to do so must raise salaries by between 10 and 15 percent annually, in July, said Aisha Abdel Aziz.
Abdel Aziz was herself summarily dismissed last year and has raised legal action to be reinstated.
“The company pretends that its financial circumstances do not permit it to pay this raise, Abdel Aziz told Daily News Egypt.
They also discovered on Thursday that their pay had been deducted by LE 8 for insurance contributions from which they do not benefit in any way.
The highest salary received by shop floor workers is LE 250 per month.
On Thursday, the 32 female workers went to the company’s labor office during their break to protest Qandeel’s dismissal.
Abdel Aziz – who was not herself present during the events – told Daily News Egypt that while they were in the company’s labor office a state security investigations officer threw them out and verbally insulted the women using foul language.
When the women returned to the factory on Saturday they found it surrounded by police and other emergency service vehicles as well as state security officers.
The 32 women were prevented from entering the factory and were told that they had been fired.
Two women, Azhar Youssef and Hanaa Thabet, were assaulted by police officers during the incident.
Abdel Aziz told Daily News Egypt that these dismissals are the latest in a series of arbitrary dismissals by El-Hennawy Company designed to intimidate workers into abandoning their demands for increased pay.
She says that in 2006 Ahmed Zein and Mahmoud Aweita lost their jobs in this manner while in 2007 another worker, Aida Salam was also fired, in addition to Abdel Aziz herself.
The El-Hennawy company refused to comment.
The workers today went to the Manpower and Migration Division to file complaints concerning the arbitrary dismissals.
Lawyer Mohamed Abdel Aziz told Daily News Egypt that they have initiated legal proceedings to challenge the dismissals.
“We are calling for the solidarity of all political forces with the El-Hennawy workers in this important case, he said
“This case yet again illustrates the way in which employers are above the law, he said.