CAIRO: Wives and children yesterday joined workers from the Tanta Flax and Oils Company staging a sit-in, as the action entered its eighth day.
Some 50 women and children joined the roughly 300 men who are demanding that the company either be run properly or that it be shut down and they receive their financial entitlements.
Workers criticize the role that the Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions and the manpower ministry has played in the dispute.
“The manpower minister talks about workers as if they’re on another planet, as if right isn’t on their side, Gamal Othman, one of the workers said, speaking to Daily News Egypt outside the Cabinet building in central Cairo where the sit-in is taking place.
Othman was harshly critical of statements made by Manpower Minister Aisha Abdel-Hady on “El-Beit Beitak , a talk show broadcast on state-controlled Channel 2 on Monday.
Abdel-Hady alleged that “outside political forces are directing the strike and sit-in with “political objectives .
“Political forces didn’t take workers from their homes and bring them here – if there are people helping the workers with food and so on, well that’s because they’re sleeping in the street, Othman commented, adding that the government wants workers to “get fed up and leave .
“We won’t leave though. We’re determined. These are all just attempts to break up the sit-in.
In a statement issued on Sunday the Tanta workers criticized the failure of the minister to mention that the Saudi investor who bought the formerly public sector company in 2005 “failed to respond to the demands they made during last year’s five-month strike.
Workers went on strike for six demands including payment of an annual pay raise amounting to 7 percent and the reinstatement of nine workers who they say were unfairly dismissed. Abdel-Hady is quoted in the statement as saying that the decision to dismiss the non-union workers was upheld in court.
“This is absolutely not what happened. All the dismissed workers won final rulings supporting their reinstatement, the statement reads.
“Instead of attacking workers, why doesn’t the ministry try to tackle their problems honestly? Othman asked.
Members of the People’s Assembly submitted a request that the workers’ situation be discussed in parliament yesterday. They were promised that the matter would be examined either yesterday evening, or today.