Around 240 workers from the Tanta Linen Factory staged a protest in front of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (EFTU) demanding the government’s intervention to rehire them in the factory after they were forced into early retirement.
The demonstration took place in front of the EFTU headquarters in downtown Cairo. They were not prevented from protesting or harassed by police officers.
All of the protesting workers, men and women, are past the age of 56.
They demanded that they should return to the factory, after a court verdict in 2011 ordered that the factory should return back to the public sector after it was privatised.
Saudi investor Abdullah Al-Kaeky bought the company in 2005 from the Egyptian government for a much lower price than the market value, the workers argue.
During the Mubarak era, several public sector companies were sold to foreign and domestic investors, which forced thousands of workers countrywide to go into early retirement.
In 2011, the workers of the Tanta Linen Factory were granted a court verdict that secured their return.
“However, the governments since the 25 January Revolution did not care to reenlist us,” one of the workers said.
He added that in 2015 the government declared that they will be able to return, and that there was an agreement signed between the workers, the Public Syndicate for Workers in the Chemical Industry, members of parliament, and the holding company, but it was all in vain. In November 2015, exactly 243 workers were promised to return, but the agreement was not fulfilled.
Although the company is still operating with 50% of its labour force, it faces several problems, including late salaries and a lack of financial stability. Last December, the current workers demanded salary increases to correspond with the average minimum wage across the country.
From 2004 until 2010, many privatisation deals have been hit with labour crises, with workers complaining of layoffs and the loss financial rights.a