Only sodium carbonate factory ceases produce due to ‘fuel prices’

CAIRO: The only sodium carbonate factory in Egypt has ceased production due to a “sharp increase in fuel prices as a result of the rise of the U.S. dollar,” Youm7 reported Thursday.

There are efforts being exerted by the Syndicate of Scientific Professions and the Engineers Syndicate to resolve the issue with the concerned state officials to propose solutions to the board of Solvay, head of the Syndicate of Scientific Professions in Alexandria Morsi Abou Youssef told Youm7.

The Egyptian pound has plunged to 11 for $1, but the decision still represents a “national disaster” because sodium carbonate is a “strategic product” and main component in the industries of fabric, iron and steel, Abou Youssef said.

However, the Alexandria-based Solvay Company will continue to produce calcium oxide, which is used in the industries of steel, gold mining and others that have carbonate soda as one of its main components, Youm7 reported.

According to Mohamed Mourad, an employee at the company, Solvay was state-owned but was sold to the private sector to increase production to 90 tons a year and raise salaries. However, the level of production did not increase and some workers were laid off, Mourad said.

The company has requested the workforce in the line of sodium carbonate to opt for early retirement in return for end of service benefits, he added.

Solvay produced enough sodium carbonate for the country and also for export, he continued.

More than 1,400 highly-trained workers are vulnerable to job losses, Mourad and Ahmed Azmy, another employee at Solvay, told Youm7.

In 2008, Alexandria for Sodium Carbonate company was sold to Belgian Solvay for 760 million EGP as part of a policy by then-President Hosni Mubarak to privatize much of the public sector.

The Holding Company for Chemical Industries said at the time that Alexandria for Sodium Carbonate, based in el-Max area in the Mediterranean city, needed urgent investment of 200 million EGP due to its old equipment.

Reporting by Asmaa Ali Badr.

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