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Egyptian labour strikes are 'social revenge', says garment exporter

Head of Arafa Holding calls for new laws to regulate industrial action, claiming wildcat strikes are damaging country's reputation

Ahram Online, Wednesday 10 Oct 2012
Egypt Mahalla workers
Thousands down tools in Mahalla earlier in 2012 (Photo: Kareem El-Beheiry)
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Egyptian labour strikes are a form of "social revenge" against the business community and should be properly regulated to maintain the country's credibility with investors, a prominent local garment exporter has said.

Alaa Arafa, chief executive of Arafa Holding, hit out at a recent wave of 'wildcat' strikes which he said are harming Egypt's reputation as a safe place to invest.
 
"It is very disturbing for business ... for delivery dates to customers [and] for planning," Arafa said. 
 
"We need some kind of a communication with workers, we need to regulate strikes," he went on, calling for new laws for labour unions that allowed them to practice their right according to international norms.
 
Arafa conceded that passing such legislation is impossible until Egypt elects a new lower house of parliament.
 
The head of Arafa Holding was part of a panel at Tuesday's Euromoney conference in Cairo.
 
Speaking at the same event, Ahmed El-Hodaiby, co-ordinator of the Freedom and Justice Party's industrial committee, said labour strikes over the past few months have affected between five and seven per cent of Egyptian production.
 
One of the largest strikes was on 15 June in Mahalla Al-Kubra, where 24,000 public sector workers downed tools for the first time since 2011.
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