Ain Sokhna Port
Workers at Egypt's Ain Sokhna seaport began their planned general strike at 4pm on Sunday to protest what they describe as unjust financial compensation from the port administration."We just want our legal rights –
nothing more and nothing less," Ali Selim, vice president of the
port's workers syndicate, told Ahram Online.
According to Selim, workers' main demand is for a share of company profits. They also want a risk allowance comparable to that received by their counterparts in Port Said.
"The company has not distributed profits within the past couple of years because it retains profits for reinvestment," a port authority source, requesting anonymity, told Ahram Online.
The source added that the company's policies regarding profit distribution adhered to Egyptian law, asserting that port workers "should not demand what is not their right."
Articles 40 and 41 of Egypt's corporate law stipulate that workers are entitled to 10 per cent of distributable company profits, pending approval from the company's shareholders.
Ain Sokhna Port, one Egypt's main Red Sea ports, is operated by Dubai-based DP World.
The source declined to further clarify the company’s profit-sharing policy within recent years.
Workers, meanwhile, continue to express frustration.
"We received a three-month bonus last year and company management told us it was an advance on our profit sharing for 2011," said workers' supervisor Amr Halawany.
As for the risk allowance, workers say a committee from the manpower ministry had confirmed their right to such an allowance, but that port administration had refused to comply.
DP World officials, meanwhile, were not available for comment on workers' demands for greater risk allowances.
"Company management has made several offers to employees, but they've all been rejected," Sokhna Port CEO Rustom Dustour told Ahram Online. "What we have offered obviously doesn't match their expectations."
Around 700 employees are said to be participating in the strike, which, workers say, has completely halted the port's activities. Abdel Kader Gaballah, head of Egypt's Red Sea Ports Authority, however, told Al-Ahram that only one of the port's docks had been taken offline by the labour action.
"Port activities will not stop as a result of the strike," Gaballah stressed, noting that the port was still receiving container ships.
In September, the port was completely shut down due to labour strikes that reportedly cost DP World some LE30 million (roughly $5.02 million) in lost revenue.
Sokhna Port, situated near the southern end of Egypt's Suez Canal, is Cairo's main port for cargo originating from the Far East. The Dubai-based port operator employs around 1,200 permanent and 4,000 temporary workers.
DP World, the world's third largest port operator, is one of the more profitable assets of the debt-laden Dubai World.