CAIRO: Some 550 workers from the Tanta Flax and Oils Company continued to protest for the fifth day Tuesday in the company’s factory after early retirement packages were not paid.
The protest coincides with an ongoing public prosecution investigation into a complaint lodged by the governor of El-Gharbeya — where the company is located — against the Saudi investor who bought Tanta Flax when it was privatised in 2005, Abdellah El-Ka’aky.
State-run daily Al-Ahram reported earlier this month that an investigation was being conducted without providing details about the exact charges against El-Ka’aky.
Gamal Othman, one of the Tanta Flax protesting workers, suggested that the complaint relates to alleged breaches of the sale contract between the Saudi investor and the government concerning the running of the company and protection of workers.
Tanta Flax workers staged a 15-day sit-in in front of Cairo’s cabinet office in February for six demands. Following mediation by the manpower ministry, the sit-in ended with an offer of an early retirement package of LE 40,000 and a sum the equivalent of two months’ wages. Al-Ahram subsequently reported that over 400 workers had opted to take early retirement.
Othman says that none of the workers have actually received payment of the early retirement packages, prompting them to launch the protest.
“The factory isn’t running, none of the management is here … We come here everyday and protest until around 2 or 3 pm,” Othman told Daily News Egypt, adding that he held El-Ka’aky responsible for the failure of workers to receive payment.
“We either want the factory to run or be paid what is owed us,” Othman said.
According to Othman, manpower ministry representative Wael Allam has promised that a resolution will be reached on the 15th of this month. The Tanta Flax worker added that the People’s Assembly was due to discuss the crisis in the factory on Tuesday afternoon.