Despite calling off their occupation of the Helwan Iron and Steel Company on Saturday, thousands of workers at this public-sector company are threatening to resume industrial action in a scheduled protest outside the Cabinet on Wednesday, to demand 16 months worth of overdue bonuses.
Following nearly three weeks of protests and strikes at this mammoth company — commencing November 26 — thousands of disgruntled workers terminated their industrial action on December 14 following concessions and pledges from both the ministries of trade and social solidarity.
Ministry officials agreed to workers’ demands to sack the company’s chairman and reshuffle the administrative board, accused of mismanagement and corruption resulting in hundreds of millions of pounds worth of losses over the course of the past decade.
According to workers at the company, an estimated LE864 million worth of losses have been incurred at the hands of this administration over several years.
Nonetheless, workers have been demanding 16 months worth of profit-sharing payments.
Company administrators have pointed out that — in light of the company’s massive losses — there are no profits to be shared. But workers view these profit-sharing payments as periodic bonuses to augment their meager basic wages, which average only a few hundred pounds a month.
The minister of trade, Mounir Abdel Nour, pledged to provide the payments in two installments, however, the first installment has not yet been paid.
Workers organizing Wednesday’s protest accuse Abdel Nour and other ministers of failing to uphold their promises to the company’s workforce of some 12,600.
Hundreds of workers from the company organized a protest outside the cabinet on Sunday demanding the realization of all their demands.
Workers are also demanding that the company return to full operations and reinstate hundreds of workers who were sacked or transferred.