• April 5, 2007

DSE on grain mills workers

Here’s a good report by the Daily Star Egypt’s Rania el-Malki about the struggle of the grain mills workers in Cairo and Giza.

Strikes by flourmill workers ended Monday following a meeting that brought together union representatives from Cairo and Giza flourmills companies, and three cabinet ministers.
Magdy Abdel Azim, deputy head of the Union Committee of the North Cairo flour mills told The Daily Star Egypt that the workers were satisfied with the decision of Minister of Social Solidarity Ali Al-Moselhi, Minister of Labor Aicha Abdel Hady and Investment Minister Mahmoud Moheiddin to freeze a decree by Al-Moselhi that would have cut workers’ monthly bonuses by 35 percent.
Over 5,000 workers at the North Cairo and South Cairo and Giza Flourmills had gone on strike last Thursday to protest Al-Moselhi’s decision to reduce the daily quota of wheat allocated to the North Cairo Mill by 429 tons and the quota to the South Cairo and Giza Flourmills by 413 tons.
“These cuts,” said Adel Azim, “threatened the very existence of our mills for the benefit of the private sector. They would have minimized our role in distributing the flour, not milling it.”
Workers’ bonuses, he continued, are tied to the mills’ production rate. The decision would have cost the workers two thirds of their salaries as well as their annual profit shares.
According to the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, the mill workers had temporarily ended the strike Friday night after promises by Secretary-General of the General Federation of Trade Unions Hussein Meghawer that their demands will be met by Monday at the latest, when the issue was to be discussed at the People’s Assembly.
When nothing was done, the workers resumed the strike, raising the specter of a bread crisis in Cairo and Giza.

Read the full report here…

One correction though: the report states the workers were on strike. Actually, they were not. They staged sit-ins and marched inside the factory compound chanting anti-government slogans, but production still went on. This scared the government enough into submitting to the workers’ demands, especially when the company has branches in 14 provinces (including Cairo and Giza); the workers in the provinces were waiting to see how the govt will handle the negotiations and there were signs the sit-ins may spread to other branches, namely to Minya.

Mabrouk for the grain mills workers…