Letter to Excellency Mr. Prime Minister in solidarity with IFFCCO Workers- Signatories

Press Releases
Monday, January 23, 2017 - 14:00

Your Excellency Mr. Prime Minister

The signatories listed below that include trade unions and political parties are addressing you this letter regarding the events that occurred during the past two weeks at IFFCCO  Company for Oils in the governorate of Suez, hoping that you will realize the danger it represents and grant to these facts the attention and concern it deserves.  The actual situation could be summarized as follows:

  • Close to the end of 2016, IFFCCO  Company for Oils witnessed a conflict related to workers’ rights, especially with regards to the way promotions and increase of salaries are accounted and disbursed away that was considered by workers as incompatible with the requisites of social justice; following the refusal of the administration to engage in negotiations, workers had to recourse to sitting-in in the headquarters of the Company and to announce their intention of beginning a strike. It is importantarrow-10x10.png to note that the labor office in charge of the district where the Company is located had prepared a report dated 28 December 2016 stating that the only claim of workers was a fair redistribution of their dues and that the responsible of the Security Authority in Suez had requested accordingly from the delegated member of the Company to reconsider the basis on which allocations were decided.  However, this request was rejected as well.  Beginning December 29, events went in a totally different direction as workers were confronted with a complaint accusing 19 workers, including the 9 "who are Trade Union members", Ataqa Suez Court of Delinquency which will promptly pronounce its judgment on January 29 under Court Case number 2932/2016.
  • Currently, all the workers under this case were released against payment of a bail, but they are still waiting with their comrades for the judgment mentioned earlier. On the other hand,  23 workers are still barred from entering the company, including the 19 workers who are committed for trial, and there are 3 workers from the workers who barred from entering the company presented their resignation under the threats of management.


  • The protest movement of IFFCCO  workers should be read according to the following considerations:
  • The demands of salary raise by these workers come in lightarrow-10x10.png of the wave of recent economic measures that are not only “harmful” at the general level but are specifically affecting the sectors falling in the bottom of the social hierarchy, i.e. those whose only source of living is their salaries.  Similarly to other workers, they were expecting from their bosses to comply with the imperatives of social responsibility by allocating fair raises especially in the context of the current economic conditions and in comparison with other businessmen who took spontaneously the initiative of raising salaries without waiting for claims or entering in negotiations;
  • IFFCCO  workers have already gone through difficult experiences with the management of their Company that is used to ignore their claims and deal rigidly with their demands; the same attitude had previously happened regarding the clauses of the work agreement concluded with their trade union in 2012 under the auspices of the Ministry of Labor; workers were consequently compelled at that time to resort to a strike that lasted for thirty seven days before the administration agreed to implement the clauses of the agreement.  In addition the Company’s management refused to re-conduct the agreement in 2015 and the negotiations re-entered into force only after the workers declared again their intention to enter into strike;
  • On December 26 2016, the delegated member of the Company informed the workers that an amount of 800,000 Egyptian pounds had been allocated for the raise of their salaries where this amount did not include the raises for the high administration; this announcement led the workers to expect fair and tangible raises; however, what actually happened was the allocation of importantarrow-10x10.png raises for the top administration while their own raises were shockingly low.  The effects and consequences of disappointment and frustration are well known and could lead to an immediate reaction as it actually happened with IFFCCO  workers; therefore, it is possible to assert that the real instigator behind the strike were the administration and the delegated member of the Company, especially in light of the deprivation and helpless feeling of workers as well as their incapacity to fulfill the basic needs for themselves and their families.
  • It is unacceptable to witness such rudeness in front of a workers’ movement whose motives and demands are quite legitimate: a fair distribution of raises capable of healing some of the effects of the prevailing inflation.  Moreover, the sit-in that was organized didn’t go beyond the walls of the Company while workers are violently repressed and threatened of firing and be subject to trial.

By this letter, we express our deep concern about the offensive attitude adopted towards workers; we also express our astonishment regarding the alignment of governmental bodies and security services with businessmen at the expense of workers’ rights and the violent repression that took place against the most vulnerable social counterpart that is paying the largest part of the bill according to the governmental declarations.

The trend of violence against workers’ movements has been obviously escalating during the past months translated into additional cases of trial with the charges of strikes or instigation to strike, and additional cases of arbitrary termination for trade unions’ leaders and activists.. While the houses of IFFCCO  workers were invaded by the security forces, two workers at the Authority of Public Transports remain in preventive detention under fake accusations and absence of proofs, independent trade unions are under siege under the pretext of their illegitimacy and their activities constantly shrunk, in addition to the governmental refusal of acknowledging their stamps or accepting their documents for registration.

Thus, the peaceful assembly of IFFCCO  workers is met with the invasion of houses, the judgment of 23 workers and the prevention of them to enter in their work place, all this culminating with a memo from the administration on January 4 holding the title “Very Importantarrow-10x10.png Warning” preventing workers from dealing with “what is called the independent trade union” on the base of a correspondence sent by the General Federation of Trade Unions (governmentally supported) stating that the said trade unions was established against the law.  Strangely enough, they are referring to the same trade union that entered in negotiation with the administration in 2012 and 2015 under the auspices of the Ministry of Labor, violating thus the basic standards of labor as well as the international conventions endorsed by Egypt.

  • The repeated measures of arresting workers, and bringing them to Courts under accusation such as striking or instigation to striking reveal a clear neglect of the Constitution that should not be underestimated or ignored.   All the members of our government as well as the parliamentarians have pledged respect to the Constitution; we mention here that Article 15 of this Constitution states that strike is a legitimate right regulated by the Law; furthermore, the State Security Court has issued thirty years ago a judgment stipulating that article 124 of the Penal Code(deferring workers to judgment when they commit a contravention, namely strike) is spontaneously nil by virtue of Egypt’s ratification of the Covenant of Economic. Social and Cultural Rights.  Attempts of defamation and insinuations that some workers are “forcing” their colleagues to strike fall totally in front of the absence of any concrete proofs.

Ignoring the Constitution and efforts to go round the facts will never be useful in the attempts to reverse the wheels of history as strike was – and will remain –one of the importantarrow-10x10.png tools for workers to defend their interests; we also note that workers do not resort happily to this alternative but have to use it when all the others means to engage in negotiations are blocked or reach a dead end.

  • While we refuse the path adopted in dealing with peaceful workers’ movement, we strongly refute the (never proved) allegation that workers’ strikes represent a threat to social stability, but we also feel deeply worried about the idea that the attraction of investments is a consideration that goes above any other consideration evenarrow-10x10.png if it was at the expense of those human beings: the Egyptian workers.

The experience of the period preceding January 2011 cannot be far from our minds when the attraction of investments was a toparrow-10x10.png priority combined with false promises of prosperity and pompous declaration about the rates of development reaching 7% while the Egyptian society was boiling from anger and the ground trembling under thrones.  If we are really seeking to achieve economic development, there must be an equilibrium in the distribution of its revenues and if we really want to attract the investments requiring social stability, there must be some justice.  The role of investors is not only to take but also to assume their social responsibility; they have to be aware that an unbalanced society suffering from profound inequalities can never be stable.

  • The multiplication of workers’ protest movements is an obvious sign of crisis; however, the solution is not in security confrontation as some people might think; actually, it is not a solution at all, not only when we refer to the implementation of democracy and allowing people to express themselves and defend their interests, but also because the conflict of interests at the social level is a reality that could not be denied.  Consequently, the closure of channels for social debate do not mean that these conflicts cease to exist; it rather mean that these conflicts emerge through other paths that might become quite dangerous.

In confirming the importancearrow-10x10.png of collective negotiations between the two main stakeholders and other social actors in the field of work, we strongly call for the reinforcement of the mechanisms leading to the prevalence of social dialogue over any other forms of debate.

Social negotiation requires firstly the abolition of restrictions obstructing the right to organizing, as well as the empowerment of the various social categories in creating the organizations expressing their interests and advocating for their rights by using the different toolsarrow-10x10.png allowing them practicing pressures in order to improve their position and impacting policy-makers.

  • The clear state of mistrust existing currently and revealed through the majority of workers’ movements combined with the extreme difficulty of engaging in negotiations in the field of work are a bitter consequence of the absence of workers’ trade unions capable of truly representing them and expressing their interests.

Accordingly, we stress on the right of workers to establish their independent trade unions and enjoy the possibility of activating their role in order to reach collective agreements and mutual grounds of understanding.

While expressing our deep concern about what happens with IFFCCO  workers as well as other workers during the past months, we also confirm our awareness of the dangerous period our country is going through and we call for the availability of true opportunities for a constructive social partnership enabling the promotion of a balanced stable and democratic society seeking to achieve a prosperous future. 

Therefore, we call for your prompt intervention in order to:

  • Reintegrate IFFCCO  workers in their jobs;
  • Urge IFFCCO  administration to stop its retaliations against workers;
  • Enable the independent trade union of workers in the Company to fulfil its roles and engage in negotiations for the benefit of workers;
  • Reflect about the means of dealing with workers’ movements and consider workers’ strikes as a legitimate right and activity;
  • Enable workers to freely create their trade unions and abolish all constraints and obstacles impeding this right.



1.      Socialist Popular Alliance Party

2.      Al Aish wal Horiya Party (under construction)

3.      The Egyptian Socialist Party (under construction)

4.       The Coordination committee of labour chapters in socialist parties and movements



5.      The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights

6.      The Center for Trade Union and Worker Services


Trade Union Confederation/ Federation:

7.      The Regional Confederation of Independent Unions in Suez

8.      The Regional Confederation of Alexandria workers unions.

9.      Arab Trade Union Confederation

10.  The Egyptian Union for Chemical Workers in Suez

11.  The Independent Union of Building and Wood Workers and Free Jobs

12.  The Union for textile, readymade clothes and Leather

13.  The Egyptian Democratic Labour Congress

14.  The Professional Post Union

15.  The permanent Conference of Alexandria Workers

16.  The permanent Conference of Working Women

17.  The Egyptian Front for Women


Trade Unions:

18.  The Union of Workers in The Egyptian Indian Polyester Company

19.  The Union of Workers in Al Nogom for Packing and Wrapping

20.  The Union of Workers in Al Nasagoun for Petro Chemicals

21.  The Union of Workers in Egypt Mondelez workers (Previously Cadbury) in Alexandria. 

22.  The Independent Union of The Timber and Daily Workers in Alexandria

23.  The Independent Union of The Workers in the Egyptian Maritime Company in Alexandria

24.  The Independent Union of Workers in Exxon Mobile –Egypt, Alexandria

25.  The Independent Union of The Alexandria Library Workers

26.  The Union of Alexandria Company for Petroleum Maintenance (Petroment)

27.  The Independent Union of Crafts in Alexandria

28.  The Independent Union of Workers in Cotton Club Company, Alexandria

29.  The Independent Union of Workers in Al Shifa Hospital, Alexandria

30.  The Independent Union of Workers in the Education Ministry in Motaza, Alexandria

31.  The Union of the Suez Company for Nitrates

32.  The Union of Vinavil Egypt for Chemicals in Suez

33.  Al Nahr El Khaled Company in Port Said

34.  General Union of Real Estate Tax


Public figures:

35.  Dr. Ahmed Al Borai- Former minister of Labour

36.  Mohamed Anwar Al Sadat- Parliamentarian

37.  George Ishak- Member of the National Council for Human Rights

38.  Dr. Amr El Shobky

39.  Hafez Abu Seada- Member of the National Council for Human Rights

40.  Ragia Omran- Member of the National Council for Human Rights

41.  Bassem Kamel- Vice President of The Egyptian Social Democratic Party

42.  Kamal Abbas- The General Coordinator of The Center for Trade Union & Workers' Services (CTUWS)

43.  Karima Al Hifnawy- Pharmacist

44.  Elhamy Al Marghani- Economic researcher

45.  Dr. Magdy Abdel Hamid- Legal and Political Activist

46.  Dr. Mohamed Hassan Khalil- Health Right Campaign Coordinator

47.  Magda Fathi Rashwan- Lawyer

48.  Khaled Al Balshy- head of the Freedoms Committee in the press syndicate



49.  Talal Shokr- Union organizer and the head of the Union of Pensioners

50.  Salah Al Ansary - Union organizer and trainer

51.  Tarek Mustafa, General Union of Real Estate Tax

52.  Ashraf Al Laithy- President of the qualitative Trade Unions Federation of personnel Management and Administration

53.  Al Desouqy Gaber - Trade unionist

54.  Ahmed Galal Galal

55.  Islam Wageih

56.  Hassan Badawy- Journalist

57.  Alaa Kamal

58.  Mohamed Abo Qureesh

59.  Mohamed Abdel Salam- Union member and lawyer

60.  Mostafa Helmy- Poet and painter

61.  Naguib Gwaily- Play Writer

62.  Gamal Yehia Mahmoud – Secretary General of the independent drivers union in Port Said

63.  Hassan Al Barbary- Accountant

64.  Hosny Ahmed – Alexandria

65.  Khaled Toson- Secretary General of The Permanent Conference of Alexandria Workers

66.  Rasha Al Gibaly

67.  Zainab Fouad – Egyptian Post

68.  Adel Ibrahim- The independent union of Egypt Telecom and a member of the Egyptian Union of Labour

69.  Abdo Atef- member of the Union of Social Insurance Workers

70.  Effat Abdel Razek Mohamed- Al Shifa Hospital union

71.  Magdy Salem- Helwan University

72.  Mohamed Al Gamal- Egyptian Union for Labour

73.  Mohamed Al Henawy

74.  Mohamed El Saftawy – Egyptian Post

75.  Mohamed Hamed Eika- Labour Activist

76.  Mahmoud Youssef- Treasurer of the Union for Al Nahr El Khaled Company Workers

77.  Mostafa Hamada- Head of the Union of External Trade workers union and member of the coordinate for defending freedoms

78.  Motaz Al Shinawy, The Secretary of Mass Communication in The Popular Socialist Alliance Party, the Writer and Journalist, Alexandria

79.  Nasif Hamdy – Arab Contractors

80.  Wafik Derbala


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