The military prosecution in Alexandria renewed on Sunday the detention of 13 employees of the Alexandria Shipyard Company who were jailed on 25 May on accusations of protesting and inciting their colleagues to protest and hinder their work, lawyer at the Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights (ECESR) Mohamed Awad told Daily News Egypt.
On Wednesday, the 13 workers attended the prosecution after receiving an official summons for investigation. They were investigated on Thursday and ordered to four days detention pending investigation. Another 13 workers also received arrest warrants but were not arrested.
From 22-23 May, a group of 26 workers in Alexandria Shipyard Company arranged an open sit-in hoping that the company’s leaders would act in response to certain demands that they had previously raised with the company administration but did not receive any attention, according to the lawyer.
The following day, when the workers arrived to work, they were banned from entering as and military units were deployed, Awad continued.
The lawyer explained that the workers arranged the sit-in to protest against unpaid wages over the past four years, the abolishment of national minimum wages just six months after its activation, and to call for annual pre-Ramadan bonuses.
“On 23 May the head of the company arrived at the sit-in and dispatched a senior navy general to discuss the issue with the workers, but he spoke strictly and warned them to end the sit-in, asserting that they will only receive EGP 75, which is the price of Ramadan bags,” lawyer said.
The lawyer condemned the arrest saying that the workers did not violate the law since they did not protest but rather arranged an open sit-in aiming to garner attention for their demands, without the intention of abstaining from work or forcing their colleagues to join them.
In a statement released on Saturday, the Revolutionary Socialists Movement denounced the arrest of the workers and their referral to military prosecution, saying that this is a dangerous escalation against people struggling for living and social justice.
The statement read: ”the workers did not commit any crime, they only raised normal and fair demands in an attempt to improve their financial conditions and the medical services offered to them, an increase in security procedures inside the company, and the reopening of a workshop that stopped due to a shortage in production materials.”
The company abolished its syndicate committee as workers do not have the right to form a syndicate since the company is currently affiliated to military administration after it was previously following civil administration.
Moreover, the former social solidarity minister Ahmed El-Borei rejected the arrest of workers contending ”this is considered mistreatment of the workers and contradicts constitutional articles granting workers their rights”.
Around 493 protests have taken place from January to April 2016, according to a report by Democracy Index. The majority of labour protests were directed against the Civil Service Law, and demanded more economic and organisational rights.