Hellish Work In Egyptian Quarries

The workers employed in stone quarries of El Minya, Egypt, get low wages and work in awful conditions that are not addressed by safety regulations. Their human rights are not protected and they don't have health insurance.

Thousands of Egyptians including children work under unbearable conditions in the stone quarry located in El Minya just to make ends meet. Akhmad who is 11 years old throws scabbled stones in a stone crusher. The stone will be turned into powder for cement production and used as an additive in dyes and pharmaceuticals. 

The work is considered to be dangerous and low-paid. The workers get 20 to 30 Egyptian pounds or 3 to 5 US dollars a day. However, their income salary isn't stable and depends on the demand. Cleaners, security officers and low-level managers get a similar income. Nevertheless, the workers run higher professional risks such as tolerated traumas and irregular employment. The available alternatives are represented by farming and fishing allowing to get 12 Egyptian pounds per day depending on the season.

It's not even the regular violation of the workers' rights that constitutes a problem but the long-term and destructive influence on their health. Processing and lifting stone blocks lead to inter-vertebral disc displacement and back problems. 

Asthma, respiratory and pulmonary diseases are developed because of dust. A number of those people who lost their health while working in stone quarries can't be estimated by statistical data... However, chronic diseases are widely spread among the workers.

The highest percentage of injuries results from accidents and can be caused by electric current or stone cutting with daily fatalities and non-fatal severe traumas occurring at 172 registered and 220 unregistered regional opencast mines.

The saw of the stone crusher can maim anyone nearby.

Hard labor undermines the workers' health. The majority of them will not be able to work when they turn 40. A working shift lasts 9 to 10 hours. In summer they work from 4 a.m. till noon when the heat gets unbearable. A number of working days per week depends on the demand and varies from 4 to 6.

Those who work in stone quarries don't have a right for state health insurance. They belong to the informal employment sector. Nowadays the workers are not able to pay to the insurance company to purchase a health insurance plan. Mubarak's government was trying to introduce some changes into the system.

In spite of the fact that child labor is illegal, the families that are short of money keep sending their children to stone quarries instead of schools. Extensive amendments to Egypt's Child Law in June 2008 included establishing the minimum age of employment at 15. Children of 13 are permitted to be employed in seasonal work that doesn't threaten their health, growth, or school attendance. However, in some cases children under 7 still participate in such work. Wadi El-Nil Association protects the rights of those children who work in quarries.

Wadi El-Nil Association promotes the issues in protective clothing and supplies the mothers of the kids engaged in quarry work with micro-credit lines and professional development opportunities giving them a chance to increase their income in future.
via daypic


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