Parliament to look into National Cement Co. case



Wed, 07 Mar 2018 - 12:07 GMT


Wed, 07 Mar 2018 - 12:07 GMT

FILE - Factory of National Cement Company

FILE - Factory of National Cement Company

CAIRO - 7 March 2018: Egypt's parliament finally decided to open the case of the National Cement Company, whose workers started a hunger strike and a sit-in nearly a week ago after 75 percent of their wages were deducted.

The only government-affiliated cement company stopped working in November 2017, and most of its factories stopped functioning one by one until around 2,300 workers were left without jobs and money, since most of them have spent all their lives working in these factories.

During Tuesday's Parliament session, several MPs demanded holding a real discussion on this controversial issue to know the real reasons and consequences of closing the company. The National Cement Company is considered the only cement-specialized company that is still owned and managed by the government, specifically by the Ministry of Public Enterprise, after most of the other companies have been privatized.

"I met with Minister of Public Enterprise Khaled Badawy and discussed with him the National Cement Company workers issue. We agreed to hold a large-scale meeting between several members of the Parliament and some of the company's workers and mangers to reach a final solution for the problem," MP Alaa Abed, chairman of the Parliament's Human Rights Committee, said on Tuesday.

He added during his speech in the Tuesday session that many other MPs discussed the company's issue with him, including the Parliament's speaker, who clearly expressed his opposition to demonstrating as a solution to the problem.

Some of the demonstrating workers doubted that the company's administration has a plan to sell it to foreign investors to turn it into a resort, a tower or a mall, but nothing of this was confirmed by any of the company's managers or the government, according to Al-watan, on March 5.

The workers said that they really don't have any money and that they brought their families to the sit-in with them. "My salary was about LE 5,000; now I only get LE 1,500," one of the workers wondered. "How is that possible?" Many other workers said that they have been working for the company for 30 years, adding "where will we go now?"

The company has been facing real economic problems for no clear reasons for a long time; it was supposed to be going through a development plan supervised by ASEC holding since 2012. Badawy, who is currently the business sector minister, was the chief financial officer of the ASEC holding during singing the developing contact, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm on Sunday, March 4.

During one year of operating (2017), the National Cement Company managed to produce about 112 percent of its set target according to the development plan; it produced 5,500 tons per day. Surprisingly, the company met the development demands but still made financial losses of LE 1 billion due to the high cost of gas.

Incomprehensible conflicts happened somewhere between the government's plans and announcements regarding developing the company to be the only remaining governmental company for cement, and the latest rapid escalations. It led MP Mohamed Fouad to issue a questionnaire to Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Minister Badawy, demanding an honest discussion to reveal the reasons that lead to the company's current economic situation.

About 1,600 workers are participating in the site-in and hunger strike so far; many of them suffered from health problems due to the strike, but they are determined to know their company's destiny and the real reasons behind deducting their salaries and referring a large number of them to early retirement.

The National Cement Company is an Egypt-based company engaged in the manufacture and trade of cement and related construction materials. The company manufactures cement, gypsum and clinker products, including ordinary Portland cement, Portland ferric cement, sulfur-resistance cement, white gypsum and cement bricks. The Company owns and operates four factories.

The the National Cement Company workers demands list distributed during the sit-in/ Press Photo



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