A strike staged by around 100 workers of ExxonMobil factory in 10th of Ramadan City entered its fourth day on Saturday. Protesters have been demanding permanent contracts. Workers told Ahram Online over the phone that they have been working for many years through different companies operating as subcontractors for ExxonMobil. Another 150 workers in another factory of ExxonMobil in Alexandria also joined the strike.
"Some people have worked for ExxonMobil since 1985, before the construction of our factory, but still are not hired by the company," complained Tarek Darwish, a member of the independent trade union of the company. Darwish assures that only administrative workers, engineers and workers' supervisors are directly hired by ExxonMobil and thus benefit from financial and other privileges workers don't get. "If we get contracts we will get many of our lost rights. We want the rights mentioned by the Labour Law," Darwish said, adding that every few years ExxonMobil changes subcontractors to give less rights to workers.
"We were working under a company called Al-Magd that was closed out. Many workers didn't get their end of service remuneration," said Tarek who has worked for ExxonMobil for around nine years.
The workers of the international giant in Egypt would be satisfied with one of two solutions: to be legally recognised as workers of ExxonMobil; or that the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation becomes their subcontractor.
"I have been working here for 14 years and I get LE1500 ($250) per month. I have nine children, I live in a rented flat and have a herniated disc and no healthcare," says Fathi El-Sherif, a worker of ExxonMobil.
The cases of herniated discs are many in the factory, according to workers, due to the nature of their work and working conditions. El-Sherif says the factory administration just gave a colleague a forced unpaid vacation for being unable to work as a consequence of his health condition.
Workers say the administration told them Friday that work would be suspended and whoever wants can leave the company. Ahram Online couldn't reach the administration to verify this information Sunday, the first working day of the week.
ExxonMobil Egypt is a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation, the world’s largest publicly traded petroleum and natural gas company.