Around 30 kilometers away from Helwan resides more than 400 brick factories with around 150 laborers working at each one, earning a daily worker’s wage of between only $US 13-17 (about 100-130 Egyptian pounds).
The conditions in which the laborers work are extremely tiring; twelve-hour shifts of strenuous manual labor are hard enough and are done for a meager wage. In addition, the workers carry out their jobs without any kind of safety equipment: without suitable shoes, helmets or protective headgear, and no gloves. This puts them at a higher risk of injury. In fact, injuries at the brick factories are extremely common.
The factory owners generally do not pay the laborers any sort of compensation if they are injured. If a laborer is injured and he has to stay at home the factory owner won’t pay him anything at all. There are no syndicates or unions for these workers to demand their rights.
Many children can be found working in these factories. Technically, the minimum age for work in Egypt is 15. When a new constitution was passed in 2014, provisions were included that prohibited anyone under the age of 18 from working in hazardous conditions. It is not clear if this included employment in the construction industry. While many would oppose the idea of children working, let alone in such dangerous conditions, for many, it is necessary for survival.