IFFCO Egypt union leaders acquitted of criminal charges face retrial
Workers at the IFFCO edible oils factory in Suez, Egypt are fighting to defend their union against employer brutality and government repression. The IFFCO workers have been fighting for an independent union for many years, and succeeded in registering the IFFCO Egypt Labour Union in 2012. Towards the end of 2016, the union formally requested a customary end-of-year salary adjustment to help offset runaway inflation. On December 26 workers were informed that money had been allocated, but the bulk of it would be distributed to management, with workers receiving little. Local management rejected the union’s request for formal negotiations to discuss distribution of the salary adjustment, prompting the union to organize a peaceful protest and declare its intention to hold a strike. On December 29, police raided the homes of the union President and General Secretary and four other workers. And on January 3, police stormed the factory and arrested 13 striking workers. On January 29 the workers were all acquitted in a Suez court of ‘inciting’ a strike, but the prosecution has appealed the decision and the workers will be tried again. Fifteen IFFCO workers including the union President and General Secretary are barred from returning to work and union members are under pressure to ‘resign’.