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Workers' Strike Stops Work On OAU Conference Centre

Panafrican News Agency (Dakar), 27 February 2001

Addis Ababa—A strike, in its second day Tuesday, has paralysed the work of the MIDROC construction company which is building the OAU conference centre in Addis Ababa.

The workers went on strike Monday over benefits and the right to form a union.

The strike involves some 1,800 workers engaged in the building of the centre due for completion in mid-May and two other construction sites in the city.

The workers alleged that MIDROC has denied them a pay raise and other benefits in the last four years as they tried to form a union.

They said that hundreds of their colleagues have been fired during the period for being activists in the drive for a union.

The dispute came into the open early December when the workers went ahead to form a union. The company retaliated with mass dismissals, according to the workers.

The local press reported Tuesday that efforts to get the management side of the dispute repeatedly failed as MIDROC executives were unavailable for comment.

The dismissed union leaders and activists said as the organisation of workers into unions was guaranteed in the country’s constitution, they feel the labour and social affairs ministry should help to settle the dispute.

The Confederation of Ethiopian Labour Union (CETU), which supports the industrial action, also wants immediate action by the government to uphold the rights of the striking workers.

MIDROC is part of the Mohammed al Amoudi conglomerate in Ethiopia engaged in various investment and last development activities.

A Saudi Arabian multimillionaire whose mother is Ethiopian, Mohammed is the owner of the three-year-old 150 million US dollars Sheraton Addis.