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Vol. 76/No. 29      August 6, 2012

Tens of thousands strike
in Egypt textiles, ceramics
(front page)
Over the past few weeks tens of thousands of textile and ceramics workers have conducted combative strikes in Egypt, continuing to use the space working people have won to organize and defend their rights since the overthrow of the Hosni Mubarak dictatorship nearly 18 months ago.

The strikes also come as Mohamed Morsi, the newly elected president and the Muslim Brotherhood leader, is jockeying with the military for a division of political power.

Some 23,000 workers at Egypt’s largest textile company, Misr Spinning and Weaving Company in Mahalla, ended an eight-day strike July 22 “after the company’s board partially responded to their demands,” according to the July 23 online edition of the daily Al Masry Al Youm. The strike included a sit-in by more than 3,000 workers.

According to Bloomberg News, strike leader Kamal el-Fayoumi said that Misr workers “were promised the distribution of profit-sharing payments that have been delayed since 1992, and an increase in their yearly bonuses and other benefits.” Misr is a state-run company.

The Misr work stoppage had spread to seven other textile factories in Alexandria, Mahalla and two other cities in the Nile River Delta, involving some 12,000 additional workers. There are 100,000 textile workers in the Mahalla region alone, north of Cairo.

The workers demanded an increase in their basic monthly pay to 1,500 Egyptian pounds ($250). They are currently paid from 700 to 1,000 pounds.

Other demands included long overdue profit-sharing bonuses; a purge of corrupt company officials associated with the previous Mubarak regime; and improvement of the company’s health care system, including changing its medical staff.

Meanwhile, more than 10,000 workers at Cleopatra Ceramics in Suez ended a 28-day strike July 18 after management agreed to pay them their delayed June wages as well as their share of the company’s profits. Workers had been demonstrating daily for about a week.

When they stormed government buildings in Suez July 17 demanding action against the company’s owner, they were tear gassed by security forces.
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