Mahalla workers to form independent union

Sarah Carr
3 Min Read

CAIRO: Workers from the Ghazl El-Mahalla spinning factory have called off the sit-in they began eight days ago because, they say, the company trade union does not represent their interests.

The workers say that they plan to resign from the official, state-controlled trade union and form an independent union.

Negotiations over the course of the eight-day sit-in – staged in the headquarters of the company s trade union committee – failed to reach solutions to the workers demands.

This is the second sit-in workers have organized after five workers were issued transfer orders last October.

The transfer orders were issued following a protest held at the Ghazl El-Mahalla factory on Oct. 31 during which some 800 workers protested mismanagement and alleged financial losses within the company.

The 22 workers who staged the sit-in demanded the revocation of the transfer orders and their return to their original posts as well as financial compensation for the transferred workers.

Last week labor activist Mohamed El-Attar, one of the transferred workers, said that workers were negotiating with the trade union itself, rather than the company s administration.

El-Attar also told Daily News Egypt that workers taking part in the sit-in were threatened with dismissal.

According to El-Attar, a statement issued yesterday places responsibility for the failure of negotiations on the trade union.

“We were promised a meeting with the Minister of Manpower and [company general representative] Fouad Hassan and that never took place, El-Attar told Daily News Egypt.

“We have given them an opportunity for 10 days to respond to our demands before we started the sit-in.

“The trade union is a farce: it only represents itself and its own interests.

Workers say that the failure of the state-controlled trade union system to represent their interests – has forced them to form their own, independent union.

“We are going to send our resignations to the official state union and begin collecting workers signatures in support of an independent union, El-Attar said.

Such an initiative follows on the establishment, in December 2008, of the Independent General Union of Real Estate Tax Collectors – the first independent trade union formed since the creation of the Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions in 1957.

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Sarah Carr is a British-Egyptian journalist in Cairo. She blogs at
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