Saturday, February 22, 2014

Egyptian textile workers suspend strike after reaching agreement

Workers protest in Mahalla that led to the formation of the 6 April movement (File photo) AFP Photo 
Mahalla workers strike. (AFP File photo) 

Workers from Mahalla Spinning and Weaving, one of largest Egyptian textile plants,  returned to work Saturday after a 12-day strike. The Ministry of Manpower and labour leaders managed to reach a deal Friday. The minister of Manpower promised that the state would implement the minimum income promised to the workers. In the agreement signed by the labour leaders and the investment minister, the state also promised to restructure the company’s board. The company’s CEO will be fired. Faisal Lacushah, an activist and employee at the Mahalla plant, said that the workers are giving the Ministry of Investment two months to implement the agreement. If no progress is made, the workers will strike again, he said.
 Thousands of workers have been participating in the sit-in that shut down the plant and cost the factory an estimated EGP 20m as of Monday. Workers staged an open-ended sit-in inside the company headquarters on 10 February to demand EGP 155m in wages and bonuses promised to the workers in November. The workers were promised the same thing in December but were never paid. Thousands of Kafr Al-Dawar employees joined the strike on Sunday in solidarity with the Mahalla workers.
The striking workers also demanded that state-owned Mahalla Spinning and Weaving implement the new government set minimum income of EGP 1,200 a month. Some workers currently earn EGP 500 a month. The workers accused the government of not living up to its won rules by not paying the legal minimum wages.
Repeated strikes in Mahalla in 2006 and 2008 led to the formation of the 6 April Movement, one of the movements that was instrumental in causing the fall of Hosni Mubarak. 

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