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Mohammad Hussain Mustafa Atieh Rostom
Mohammad Hussain Mustafa Atieh Rostom is one of 5 workers, dismissed by Mondelez for their union activity at Cadbury plant in Alexandria. Born in 1965, he started his work for the company in 1988 and became one of the founders of the independent union in 2012.

I work on the Trident chewing gum section on the “Single Machine”, used for products to be exported to the EU through Morocco. I have worked for the company since 4th April 1988 and, as a permanent employee, from 1st of Nov 1989. So I work for the company for more than 25 years. I was there when the company name was Warner-Lambert, and when it was Pfizer, and Cadbury and Kraft . I don’t remember its name now. They change the name all the time, they change all the files and finance records at least every 10 years.

How was the union formed?

We decided to form a union in the spring of 2012. 250 workers joined and I was elected to the union committee as the treasurer assistant. We have the right to be organized and bargain with the management. This is the international law. Collectively we demanded that there should be a paramedic and ambulance in the company for work injuries and emergencies: as some workers work 12 hours at night and this happens regularly.

We also demanded that the company distribute profits fairly among workers and distribute back the money they deducted from penalties which workers paid. The penalty money comes from deducting money from the workers when they are late to work for example. The labor law states that such money must be given back to workers for emergencies, as well as for social events like marriage.

We also demanded a check-off system for union membership fees and that the company fulfills its promise to provide a permanent office for the union.

What was the reaction of the management?

The company did not want the union to exist from the beginning. When at first union representative Mohammad Abu Alola met with manager Ala'a Darweesh to let him know of the establishment of the union and asked for recognition of the union, the manager Ala'a said he wants to meet with union members to see what they think. He realized that the union will not be subordinated to management and was very displeased. He questioned why we established a union? The reply was – the union will be the collective voice of workers!

How were you dismissed?

It was after the spontaneous protest, which was provoked by the company. They announced that they will not calculate the increase, as was prescribed by the decree of the President. We were outraged! This is our right, and all companies must obey the law, especially an international company.

During that protest day manager Mohammad Mustafa tried to contact the union president to tell him that he will fire 4-10 workers a day if the protest does not come to an end. At the end they dismissed the elected union representatives. Many of the workers who participated in the action were also penalized for either one day, half a day or quarter of a day salary deduction. Such a penalty is too big for many of us.

Did the management come to discuss the workers’ demands?

Ala'a Darweesh, Wala'a Hamoudeh and Ameer Shahata from management came only to threaten the workers. And after the protest ended, there was an investigation and I was told I have no job here anymore. I had this job for 25 years!

I have a family, six children, other responsibilities, and I suffer from different diseases because of my work in the company. During my work in the factory I suffered from chronic illness cartilage disease and the medicine costs more than 300 Egyptian pounds monthly. I do suffer as well from diabetes and high blood pressure and the medicines for those conditions costs me more than 250 and 120 Egyptian pounds respectively, I have to spend now between 600-700 Egyptian pounds on medicines from my own pocket.

No one knows how I and my family are living now, and how we manage our life and treatment. I am in bad health. Because of my age and illness, I cannot work in hard jobs in other places. When I tried to find another job in the factories that manufacture chewing gum to work on machines using my experiences, they start by asking me about my previous job. Once they discover I was working at Cadbury, they go and contact them and the recommendation from Cadbury is not to give us the job as we were inciting for strikes. If they offer me a job, they only offer degrading jobs like cleaning toilets or carrying heavy weights, which does not suit my age and health. The company is fighting us wherever we go. We are stuck now. I did not receive my end of service benefits, nor can I have my pension from the insurance ministry. Now we are in a freeze situation, we cannot work and cannot do anything. My family situation is really difficult.

How do your children live since you were stopped from work?

I want people to know that we live under the poverty line, and the beggars in the streets are living better than us.

Cadbury workers take stand against Kraft/Mondelez human rights abuses // 2:23 (or watch it on YouTube)

Interview Hussein Ahmed Hussein - sacked by Kraf/Mondelez // 9:36
(or watch it on YouTube)

Interview Nasr Awad - sacked by Kraft/Mondelez // 7:36
(or watch it on YouTube)
The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)