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Story

Tourah Cement lawsuit (re workers’ prison charge for illegal protest, Egypt)

Snapshot:

On 23 May 2017, 32 workers from Tourah Portland Cement Company, a subsidiary of HeidelbergCement in Egypt were arrested and brought to trial for assaulting a police captain, obstructing justice and using violence to resist authorities. This followed their alleged illegal protest against the company's decision to lay them off after years of service. In June 2017, the 32 workers were sentenced to three years in prison. Subsequently, a misdemeanour appeals court reduced the illegal protest sentence to two months.

 

 

Factual Background

In April 2017, security guards working at Tourah Portland Cement Company, a subsidiary of HeidelbergCement in Egypt announced a sit-in to protest the company's decision to lay them off after years of service (allegedly between 10 to 15 years of employment for some workers). The workers complained that the company failed to pay money owed to them, and treated them as contractors rather than employees, contrary to a previous court order from 2016.

The protest followed the company’s refusal to compensate the family of a security guard who was killed during an altercation with people thought to be stealing property from company grounds. The company board claimed the deceased security guard was not entitled to any compensation or insurance because he was a part-time employee. However, they later released a statement confirming that the late employee was in fact a permanent staff member who lost his life due to the lack of adequate security on its premises. In addition, the company released a statement confirming that the protesters were not staff members but subcontractors of a security firm that served until 30 April 2017, which is the expiry date of the contract the company had with the service provider. The decision not to renew the contract stemmed from a lack of competence to actually secure the premises.

Legal Theory

On 23 May 2017, 32 workers from Tourah Portland Cement Company in Egypt were arrested and brought to trial on 3 June on charges of assaulting a police captain, obstructing justice and using violence to resist authorities following their alleged illegal protest.

Legal Proceedings

On 4 June 2017, the Maadi Misdemeanors Court sentenced the 32 workers to three years in prison for their alleged illegal protest, the harshest penalties for such an alleged crime. Egyptian law stipulates a minimum of two years in prison and a fine of EGP 50,000 (USD 3,213) for those found guilty of illegal assembly.

On 18 June 2017, a misdemeanour appeals court reduced the illegal protest sentence to two months.

 

News items

 - Court Issues 3 year sentences for protesting Tourah Cement Company Workers, Marsad Egypt, 2017
- Egypt appeals court reduces sentence on workers jailed for illegal protest, Ahram Online (Egypt), 18 Jun 2017
- Police Arrest 32 workers following dispersal of sit-in at Tourah Cement Company, Mada Masr (Egypt), 23 May 2017

Suez Cement

- Response from Suez Cement with regards to concerns raised against Tourah Cement, 1 Jun 2017

Company Responses

HeidelbergCement View Response

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