Around 400 workers at El Sewedy Electric’s factory in 10th of Ramadan City downed tools Tuesday in the the first strike at the Middle East’s leading electrical products manufacturer since Egypt’s president was ousted in February.
Employees are demanding the payment of bonuses for seasonal occasions, such as Eid Al-Adha, the Islamic festival which takes place this coming week.
“Since the revolution, they have stopped paying us these bonuses although production [during the uprising] was only affected for a very short time,” a member of the factory’s syndicate told Ahram Online by phone.
Until three years ago, El Sewedy workers used to receive the equivalent of four months wages in seasonal bonuses paid throughout the year.
Starting in 2008, however, the administration has instead been paying workers four installments of LE500 — significantly less than a full month’s wage.
Between 2008 and 2010, workers held unsucessful protests to win back the full bonus payments, which they consider a fair means of sharing El Sewedy’s profits.
“We signed an agreement with the administration in 2008 to be paid four months’ salary per year but they didn’t respect it. Even to get the LE500 we had to protest or organise a sit-in,” says the syndicate member.
Since the start of 2011 the company has completely stopped paying holiday bonuses, he claims.
“Many occasions have passed when we once used to get bonuses, like Ramadan and Eid, but we’ve been paid nothing,” says another worker participating in the strike.
Employees are also demanding the removal of the human resource director at their factory who they hold responsible for laying off 120 employees since February.
“Management are getting rid of temporary workers and those newly hired because these employees don’t have any right to redundancy compensations,” said a worker.
Company management were unavailable for comment.