The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) urged the government to quickly respond to the demands of the striking Egyptian Iron and Steel (HADISOLB) workers.
EIPR said in a statement on Wednesday that it supports the workers’ demands “which do not violate the law.”
The workers are owed around EGP 190m worth of profit shares for 16 months. A recent cabinet statement earlier this week however said that the country is suffering from a large budget deficit and state intervention to pay the workers would have to come at the expense of funds allocated for other sectors like education, health and infrastructure.
But in addition to their profit share, the workers are demanding an improvement of working standards, developing the company and investigations into allegations of corruption.
The EIPR statement comes as the workers’ strike enters its third week. The strike started on 26 November, with workers escalating last week by welding shut the factory gates. Workers have dubbed the third week, “the week of escalation.”
The company employs 14,000 workers and was established in 1954 but is running at a loss. A cabinet statement said the company incurred losses of EGP 864m so far this year and of EGP 405m last year.
EIPR said workers have feared for years that the company would be liquidated. “EIPR supports the workers’ demands to not shut down the company,” adding that work in the company can be developed to become economically viable.
“The workers have tried for years to bring attention to the necessity of developing the company,” EIPR said, adding that the company’s projects sector had presented memorandums with ideas to develop the company.
The development would make the company more energy efficient and would multiply current productivity by ten times. The statement said that the government may fund the development project but that there are even international groups that said they were willing to fund the project which would cost EPG 3bn divided over the next five years.