NATGAS workers furious over arbitrary dismissal
Laborer at the National Gas Company - Photo Courtesy of Natgas.COM
By NOURHAN MAGDI

CAIRO: Laborers at the National Gas Company (NATGAS) are venting their frustration after they say they were pressured to either sign mass resignations or be arbitrarily dismissed.

The workers of NATGAS, which specializes in gas distribution and producing digital gas network maps, issued a release Thursday complaining about their dismissal.

The release, issued on the workers’ Facebook page, demanded interim President Adly Mansour, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and presidential candidates Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabbahi intercede to halt the dismissal.

“We have been working in this country for 15 years and never complained about work, although we’ve been assigned with many tasks in departments different from ours, including the emergency section,” worker Rabei Abdel Hady, 48, told The Cairo Post Thursday.

Abdel Hady added that “There was no logical reason to dismiss us, as our health is very good and we are hard workers.”

“It started when we met with Assistant Head of Human Resources of the Board of Directors Mostafa el-Ashry, who asked us to resign in order to receive an amount of money,” continued Abdel Hady. He noted that they were threatened to be dismissed if they did not agree to resign.

Ashry declined to comment on the issue in a Thursday phone call with The Cairo Post.

Abdel Hady said they tried to contact NATGAS officials to complain about the decision, but “[officials] told us not to question it and said they did not have any information about this issue.”

Abdel Hady said that he is his family’s breadwinner and he needs state officials to become involved to solve the problem. “How could I make a living for my family if I had to leave my work?” he asked.

Abdel Hady is not the only worker who was pressured by NATGAS, as so far at least 80 workers in different governorates have been laid off according to Safwat Hussein, a 38-year-old worker at the company’s Beheira branch.

Hussein, who was dismissed Wednesday, told The Cairo Post, “I heard news that the administration wants to dismiss all workers before the application of the new labor law of the 2014 constitution in two weeks, as they want to bring new laborers to work.”

“Where is our minister, the ministry of manpower and the officials in the government? None of them have responded to our problem even though we have sent them several letters,” Hussein said.

“I have worked at the company since 1999 and if I resigned I would not get a pension,” Mohamed Hleil, 38, told The Cairo Post, “What is the law that gives them the right to dismiss us?”

Furthermore, Hleil said the decision to dismiss workers with contracts without cause is a violation of articles 12 and 13 in the 2014 constitution. The articles guarantee the state’s obligation to maintain workers’ rights and bans arbitrary dismissals.

“The administration told us that the decision is based upon Law 12 from 2003 that gives the owner the right to dismiss workers even if there is a judicial verdict saying they are not charged and can return to work,” Hleil said.

The head of Egypt’s Laborers for Development and Human Rights, Ahmed Gamal el-Din told The Cairo Post that Law 12 was flawed and demanded “the ratification of the new law according to criteria adopted in the new 2014 constitution which bans the dismissal of the laborers.”

Ahmed Said Mohamed Badawy, a supervisor at NATGAS, said he was offered 102,000 EGP to resign, but he refused.

“I am a 41-year-old man. I had a work accident in 2003 and I lost my left eye,” Badawy told The Cairo Post, noting that he will not be able to find another job with the same salary with his permanent disability.

 

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