The Alexandria Criminal Court acquitted on Wednesday 22 workers from Titan cement factory who were convicted of detaining a manager and demonstrating force in protests they had staged inside the company’s headquarters three years ago.
The workers were surprised that the incident was referred to the judiciary after three years of its occurrence. They were not informed of the decision, according to Mohamed Hamed, head of Titan cement factory’s independent labour syndicate.
The incident dates back to 2013, when hundreds of the factory’s workers decided to stage a protest inside the company’s headquarters in Alexandria and the workflow was fully suspended. The workers had demanded permanent work contracts for temporarily hired workers, profit shares, and financial incentives.
Following the protest, security forces stormed the company headquarters to disperse the workers’ protest. Twenty-two workers were arrested and referred to prosecution on charges of inciting violence and detaining one of the company’s board members.
“The acquittal verdict issued today is a sign that we were subjected to oppression. We were confident the court will reach this conclusion. The company’s administration accused us of the charges without clear evidence,” Hamed clarified.
“Thanks to the Egyptian Center for Freedoms and Rights, a team of defence lawyers attended the trial and advocated for us,” he stated. The workers are now looking forward to resuming their work after the court acquitted them, Hamed added.
“We will start negotiating with the main headquarters of the company in Greece to ask for our rights, which includes resuming our work at the company and receiving any delayed financial dues,” he asserted.
Similarly, from 22 to 23 May, a group of 26 workers from the Alexandria Shipyard Company arranged an open sit-in. They had previously voiced their demands to the company’s administration, but received no attention.
As the strike escalated, workers were barred from entering the work place and military units were deployed.
Thirteen of the workers were jailed on 25 May on charges of protesting and inciting their colleagues to strike, and were then referred to military prosecution.
According to the Military Judiciary Law, if civilians breach a law inside a military zone, they can be referred to military court.