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Work resumes at Egypt's Mahalla textile factory after strike win

Employees at Mahalla's Weaving and Textile Company go back to work after strike action secures payment of delayed bonus

Marwa Hussein, Sunday 13 Oct 2013
mahala
File photo: Egypt's Mahalla workers (Photo: facebook.com/Ravdenkom)
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Strikers returned to work at Egypt's largest state-owned Weaving and Textile Company on Sunday after workers received their delayed bonus payment.

Bosses said workers would be paid for the three days they were on strike, and they would not be counted as annual holiday as previously announced.

Management yielded after tens of angry workers stormed the CEO's office on Saturday morning and threatened to increase their demands.

Workers hit the machines after the main power plant feeding the factory resumed operations. 

Earlier this year, the 22,000 strong work force concluded an agreement with the government stipulating that a profit-sharing bonus would be distributed equally to company employees in four instalments.

Two instalments were already paid; one following a sit-in after it was delayed in August. A fourth instalment is to be paid in December.

Strikers had also called for the dismissal of company CEO Fouad Abdel-Alim.

"After the Eid holiday we will present ideas to the ministers of investments and manpower about how to improve the company's revenues and thus get paid on time," said Kamal El-Fayoumi, a worker and activist.

The workers' profit bonus comes directly from the finance ministry, not the company's revenues.

"We want the government to increase the amount of cotton entering the factory so we can boost production and revenues [because it currently only works at 30 percent capacity]," said El-Fayoumi. 

"The finance ministry delayed the bonus payment because of the economic situation," company head Ibrahim Badr told Ahram Online. 

Most of Egypt's public textile companies do not make a profit. The government stopped investing in the sector in the early eighties so its facilities are outdated and inefficient.

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