CAIRO: Negotiations between striking workers from the Tanta Flax and Oils Company and representatives of the Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions (EFTU) failed to reach a solution yesterday, as the sit-in staged by workers outside the Cabinet building entered its 15th day.
Members of the company’s union committee met Said El-Gohary, head of the General Union of Textile Workers, part of the state-controlled EFTU, in a meeting attended by Muslim Brotherhood MPs.
Yesterday’s meeting followed unsuccessful negotiations last Thursday between 14 company employees and Manpower Minister Aisha Abdel-Hady, during which Abdel-Hady put LE 700,000 on the table to cover the payment of an equivalent of two months wages for each worker.
The minister also offered a sum of LE 35,000 to workers opting for early retirement, LE 10,000 less than the LE 45,000 Tanta employees are demanding, and which they say the company is obliged to pay.
Speaking outside parliament, where a group of Tanta workers were protesting, Hisham El-Okal said that the minister’s offer was categorically rejected on the spot by all the workers.
In addition to the reinstatement of nine employees they say were dismissed arbitrarily, striking workers are calling for the payment of benefits and allowances in parity with the public sector.
Tanta Flax was privatized in 2005 and sold to a Saudi investor who, workers allege, is systematically dismantling the company in order to close it down and sell the land on which it stands.
“The minister told us that we are not entitled to these payments because Tanta Flax is a private sector company. But it was the government which sold this company, and it sold it despite our objections, El-Okal said.
El-Okal says that during the meeting Abdel-Hady announced that the offer she made “would be the last. The same offer was put on the table during yesterday’s meeting, and workers were told that there would not be another meeting for a week.
“They’re trying to make us fed-up so that we’ll break up the sit-in and leave. But that won’t happen, El-Okal told Daily News Egypt, adding that claims made in state daily Al-Ahram last week of divisions among workers’ ranks about whether to continue the sit-in or not are false.
El-Gohary could not be reached for comment.