Manpower Minister cuts deal with Tanta investor

Minister of Manpower and Migration Aisha Abdel Hadi reached an agreement on Monday with the General Union for Textile workers and the Tanta Flax and Oil Company, allowing the company’s workers to enter into early retirement, in batches, before the end of 2011.

Company workers however announced their rejection of the deal.

According to the agreement, workers wishing to stay with the company will be accorded their full rights and receive their overdue payments–while those wishing to leave will receive compensation of LE50,000–on the condition that the Manpower Ministry drops the complaint it filed against the company on behalf of the workers.  

Saeed el-Gohary, head of the textile union, said he considers the agreement to be fair since it secures the full rights of workers. He said workers will not be placed under pressure to drop the cases they have filed against the Saudi investor and the company’s management.

El-Gohary added that the agreement is not binding on the workers, who have the right to accept it or not. He noted that according to law, however, the union has the right to sign the agreement on behalf of the workers, as their lawful representative.

In statements to Al-Masry Al-Youm, the workers said they have informed el-Gohary that they reject Abdel Hadi’s deal, which they said favors the Saudi investor at their own expense.

According to the deal, the company will operate again in August under a new management team, and 350 workers will go into early retirement in return for LE50,000 each. The nine workers who were dismissed–and who have obtained court rulings stating they should be allowed to return to work–will also leave, receiving LE60,000 each in compensation. The remaining 493 workers may stay but have the right to retire in 2011 on the condition that they drop their lawsuit against the Saudi investor and the company.

Hesham Abu Zeid, member of the trade union committee for the company workers, said the workers do not intend to drop their lawsuit against the company.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) issued a statement in which it described the terms of the settlement as unfair and divisive, being likely to cause fighting among the workers over who will stay and who should retire.

The ECESR criticized Abdel Hadi, saying the role of her ministry is not to find ways to solve the crisis for the Saudi investor. Instead, they said, the ministry should maintain the industry, secure workers’ rights and prevent similar problems from arising in the future.

Abd el-llah el-Kaki, the company owner, and the company’s managers have been given prison sentences and are required to pay a fine for their disregard of workers rights.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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