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End to strike at Egypt’s Suez Steel - but struggle continues

29 August, 2013The current dispute over the collective agreement at the Suez Steel plant has been resolved. But as the employer needs to fully recognize trade unions and workers’ rights, IndustriALL Global Union pushes for continued discussions.

The signing of a collective agreement at the Suez Steel plant in February 2012 set off a series of disputes with dismissals, arrests and violence. In August 12 workers were dismissed and had police reports filed against them. Management refused to answer workers’ demands, saying they must return to work before negotiations could begin. In the last few weeks’ the conflict further escalated with the arrests of additional three workers’ leaders and gunmen and military sent in to scare workers at the plant back to production. The employer held a meeting, putting pressure on workers to convince their twelve colleagues and few more to leave.

In an effort to ease the tense situation IndustriALL, together with Egyptian Democratic Labour Congress, EDLC, and the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, EFITU, again pushed the Egyptian Minister of Manpower and Migration Kamal Abu Aita to take action to stop violence against the striking workers. The conflict was also raised with a number of ministers including the Minister of Industry.

Last week, after the release of the detained workers and a negotiation process at the company facility in which the Governor of Suez participated, six workers agreed to leave after getting adequate financial remuneration. The remaining nine workers still want to be reinstated.

"We thank IndustriALL for its effective support in solving this dispute and call for the continuous support to reinstate the nine workers,” says Mohamed Mabrouk, one of the dismissed, previously detained workers and a key strike leader. “We were not standing for personal interest so we could accept some financial remuneration and leave. We are standing for the interest of the company's workforce and will continue on the same basis.”

Jyrki Raina, Secretary General of IndustriALL Global Union states:

“Even though this strike is over, it is clear that there is still work to be done and the employer needs to respect the trade union and workers’ rights. IndustriALL Global Union urges the employer to continue these important discussions and to recognize the right to collective bargaining – that’s the only way forward to end the dispute.”