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International intervention brings settlement for Pirelli workers in Egypt

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9 August, 2012A positive settlement was reached on 24 July, ending a labour conflict at tyre giant Pirelli’s Alexandria plant in Egypt, and reinstating five dismissed trade union officials and activists.

This success came following the intervention of IndustriALL Global Union which has brought a new collective agreement for 2,000 workers at the Alexandria Company for Tyres, owned by global rubber and tyre giant Pirelli. The Italian-based multinational agreed to bargain in good faith under government mediation with the General Trade Union of Chemical Workers, with both sides seeking to establish a positive working relationship following a strike from 30 May to 18 June.

The justified strike action had started with an occupation of the factory after the employer announced an intention to move the machinery, raw material and production equipment. Union members blocked the plant gates and refused passage of equipment and also of scabs. The strikers then accused the company of frequently ignoring and not applying Egyptian laws & Regulations regarding the implementation of wage increases, bonuses and profit related payments.

The workforce had taken the decision to strike after a prolonged period of grievances, with the last straw being management’s ignoring a demand for collective bargaining.  And management’s response to the strike on 21 June was to summarily dismiss five leading union activists including the local union President, Ahmed Mohammed Kandil.

IndustriALL Global Union intervened by sending a protest letter to the company management in Alexandria, and by keeping informed affiliates organizing Pirelli workers in other countries, particularly in Italy. In the meantime several interactions with company management were conducted leading to a proper solution and restoration of labour relations at the plant.

Had settlement not been reached, next steps in the campaign were to include demonstrations at the Italian Consulate in Alexandria and a large-scale sit-in in front of the Presidential Palace in Cairo. On the global level, IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Jyrki Raina had informed Pirelli of planned next steps including mobilization of organized Pirelli workers throughout the world, a large proportion of whom are members of IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliates.

The new labour agreement includes provisions to extend healthcare to workers’ families, the waiving of law suits and police complaints from both sides, and to continue assessing the rules on worker access to profit sharing.