Job erosion at HeidelbergCement Suez Plant in Egypt
Since 2018, HeidelbergCement in Egypt has reduced its workforce by at least 2,000 through attrition and by not extending fixed term contracts. In December 2019, an independent study found that almost half of the 474 workers are contract workers at its Suez plant, one of four plants owned by HeidelbergCement in Egypt, where discriminatory labour conditions are a concern.
The study observed that there are great differences in working conditions between permanent workers at the plants that are to a larger extend union members, represented by the General Trade Union of Building and Wood Workers (GTUBWW) and the subcontracted workers who are not unionised. Permanent workers were found to receive a salary substantially higher than the Egyptian minimum wage. Additional benefits that are provided by the company includes a daily meal and medical insurance that also covers their family members. Subcontracted workers receive a much lower salary for the same work, with wages close to the national minimum wage of 2000 Egyptian pounds (128,52 USD) for a 42 hour or 6-day work week.
The study also found that there is no clear division of the activities that are performed by subcontracted employees and considerable differences in employee benefits provided, from wages, right to leave, access to health care and ethical hiring practices. Subcontracted workers also face issues on social security because they need to be given a social security number from their employers, which they do not have. Not having a social security number is not only a constraint to organise in unions, but also to access other benefits.
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