السبت، 29 نوفمبر، 2008

Mahalla workers demand reversal of peer transfers


Sarah Carr reports…
Five workers involved in labor activity in Ghazl El-Mahalla spinning factory were subjected to unofficial disciplinary measures by the company’s management, one of them told Daily News Egypt.The measures follow a protest held on Oct. 31 during which some 800 workers protested alleged plans to privatize and sell off the factory and called for the resignation of Fouad Hassan, the company’s executive manager.Wedad El-Demerdash said that she and four other factory employees were transferred from their posts and put under investigation as a direct result of their participation in the October protest.“Amal Said and I have been working in the production unit for 25 years. On Nov. 1 we were prevented from entering the factory and attacked by individuals as we tried to go in,” El-Demerdash said.“Amal was beaten and her clothes were ripped during this attack. We’ve filed complaints both with the police and within the company,” she continued.El-Demerdash and Said were verbally informed that they had been transferred to the company’s Mahalla and Kafr El-Hegaz nurseries respectively.El-Demerdash says that on the same day Karim El-Beheiry, an administrative employee and Mohamed El-Attar, a worker on the shop floor, were also prevented from entering the factory.“Mohamed has been transferred to the company’s Alexandria branch and Karim to its Cairo office. None of them received official, written notification of their transfer,” El-Demerdash said.El-Beheiry says on his blog Egyworkers that he now has to commute daily from Mahalla to work in Cairo, a round trip of at least four hours.He was one of three Ghazl El-Mahalla workers arrested and detained for two months earlier this year following the events of April 6, when security forces in the Delta town violently put down demonstrations against rising food prices.The latest factory worker to be transferred is Wael Habib who was prevented from entering the factory on Wednesday Nov. 26 and, according to the labor activism blog Mahalla Horizons (afaqm.wordpress.com) was informed by telephone that he had been transferred to the company’s Cairo office.Mahalla Horizons says that Habib had been involved in distributing leaflets among workers.The leaflets called for the revocation of the transfer orders issued against El-Demerdash, Said, El-Beheiry and El-Attar, the dismissal of Fouad Hassan and an investigation into the LE 144 million losses incurred by the company which workers attribute to Hassan, the operation of machines lying idle and finally the new investments being pumped into the company.“One hundred and eighty workers in addition to this group of five are under investigation in the factory,” El-Demerdash said.“Hassan holds daily meetings with workers, and in between these meetings and the investigations we can’t get on with our work. He is deliberately trying to make the factory lose money because they want to privatize it,” she continued.Hassan could not be reached at time of press.Activists have announced a demonstration in solidarity with the five Mahalla workers on Monday at 6 pm outside the Journalists’ Syndicate, Cairo.