CAIRO: Hundreds of workers from different sectors protested Sunday in front of Cabinet voicing a range of social and financial demands.
Workers from the Egypt-Iran Yarn and Textile Company have had a sit-in in front of the Cabinet since Thursday, calling for the dismissal of Samy Abou Shady, the managing director of the company as well as Mohsen El-Gilany, its president.
"They robbed and squandered the company’s funds. And they give us our salaries in installments and deduct half of our bonuses for themselves," said Abdel Mohsen Abdel Aziz, one of the protesting workers.
Khaled El-Gilany, another worker, said that the administration also closed down the medical department to punish them. "They closed it on Oct. 4, although it used to serve more than 600 workers," he said.
On Saturday, workers blocked Qasr Al-Aini Street in protest at the assault on their colleague El-Gilany by an army officer who allegedly beat him with a stick.
El-Gilany was taken to hospital unconscious. His colleagues, who initially thought he had died because of injuries he sustained, obstructed traffic.
However, El-Gilany was released from hospital to take part in the protests the next day.
"I want someone to tell me if getting beaten while negotiating is a way to treat a human being. We want to feel like Egyptians, we can’t believe that the army is beating us in our country," he said. "I was about to [kill myself] when I felt that I cannot get my rights in my country."
Egypt-Iran Textile workers were accompanied by the workers of Al-Nasr Auto Company who were forced into early retirement.
Over 3,600 workers from Al-Nasr Auto Company are calling for financial settlements.
"We received LE 105,000 in pensions while those who retired three months later received LE 150,000, so we want the difference [LE 45, 000]," said Mohamed Abdalla, one of the protesters from Al-Nasr Auto.
Khalil, who was forced to retire, added that workers who had to retire since 2005 will also have to be compensated.
"Aly El-Selmy [deputy prime minister] told us that our demands are valid," he said. "However, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf still did not sign the resolution for us to be compensated. He postponed it until Sunday and still nothing happened."
Khalil called on Cabinet to stop stalling when it comes to workers’ demands. "They should simply tell us if it is our right or not; El-Selmy already acknowledged that it is, so it is not clear why Sharaf does not want to sign the resolution."
Khaled Nagaty, a protesting worker, said that Sharaf had announced lately that he will not respond to sector-specific demands because of lack of resources.
He stressed, however, that what his colleagues are asking for are not demands but their “rights.”
"The Cabinet announced that it will allocate LE 1 billion for pensions; where did this money go?" Nagaty said.
Al-Nasr Auto workers have been making these demands for more than eight months saying that although Zaki Basyouni, head of the holding company, told El-Selmy that there is lack of funds, he has sold the company at a very low price to benefit specific people.
Meanwhile, workers who were working in Iraq before the 1990 Gulf war between Iraq and Kuwait, protested as well in front of the Cabinet Sunday, asking for their remittances.
On August 8, Egypt announced that it will disburse the remittances after an agreement between Sharaf and Iraqi officials.
"Since then nothing has happened. We go to the banks but we cannot disburse our funds that we spent our life collecting," said Mohamed Ali Mohamed, one of the workers.
Mohamed said he is also protesting to call upon officials to treat him in a way similar to Mubarak since he fought in the 6th of October War side by side with Mubarak; yet, he cannot afford his own treatment.