More than three hundred workers from Mega Textiles Company were pursued by thugs through the streets of Shebin El-Kom in the Delta. The workers were on their way to meet Menoufiya’s governor, to help reach a deal with the Turkish owners of their company, while the company’s remaining 500 workers were on strike.
“A delegation of 30 workers went yesterday to meet the governor of Menoufiya. They told us at the door that he was out and to come back to meet him tomorrow,” said Badr Mansour, one of the workers.
After waiting for some time in front of the governor’s offices, the young workers, most of whom were female, were surprised by a group of thugs who came out of the governorate building, according to many who spoke to Ahram Online over the phone.
“They had the same black sticks that the police carry, but also whips and iron pipes. When we started running, they pursued us for more than one hour in Shebin’s streets,” added Reda Mansour, speaking from El-Kasr El-Aini hospital in Shebin where four of his colleagues were being treated for injuries.
“The police were there, watching and laughing, before starting to beat us as well,” added Mahmoud Abdel Nasser, head of the company’s syndicate. Seven of his colleagues, six men and one woman, were arrested and will be referred to the prosecutor.
The struggle between the workers and the administration of Mega Textiles Company escalated recently, after the administration denied 31 workers, including the members of the factory union, from entering the factory on Sunday, 9 October. “They have referred 43 workers for investigation,” said Mahmoud Abdel Nasser, adding that all their demands have been neglected despite the signing of many deals between workers and the administration in the presence of officials.
There have reportedly been rising tensions as the company’s Turkish management continues to take punitive measures against union members and protesting workers.
The workers have been asking for an increase in their insured wage, and to receive their annual holidays, as it has been very hard for the workers to take days off for any reason. “According to the law, we have the right to 21 days per year, and we have made a deal to have about two days per month instead, but the administration didn’t respect the deal. However, the problem is bigger; they are really mistreating us,” added Mahmoud Abdel Nasser, referring to the recourse of the administration to Bedouins to threaten the workers inside the factory itself.
In a previous incident in May, one of the Turkish directors slapped a female employee across her face while she was speaking to him during a strike, an incident the workers still discuss.
The young workers of Mega Textiles, mostly in their twenties, have showed considerable determination since well before the revolution. In the four years since their company was inaugurated by ousted president Hosni Mubarak, they have held more than six strikes.