Workers strike in Mahalla for a better textiles industry

Ahram Online, Saturday 23 Apr 2011

Demanding accountability of those formerly responsible for the textiles industry, workers in Mahalla have gone on strike ahead of May Day on 1 May

May Day poster
A poster issued by the recently founded Federation of Independent Trade Unions announces a first of its kind May Day celebration in the epicentre of the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir square

About 4000 workers have started a strike on Saturday together with the manager of a factory in the industrial city of Mahalla, protesting against the rise in prices of cotton, which have increased from LE12,000 per ton to LE43,000, while the selling price remained stable, in order to compete with foreign products, especially from China.

The sit-in participants also demanded that the former agriculture minister be held accountable for the deterioration of the country's cotton crop, the head of the holding company be held accountable for the deterioration of the textile industry, and that the union of textile industries is dissolved for working against the interests of the industry.

Strikers also demanded that cotton prices be subsidised by lifting its sales tax, halting the exportation of raw cotton, forcing a tax on exported cotton, supporting local industries, supplying factories with gas at subsidised prices, and lifting customs fees from imported textiles until the crisis passes.

On the national level, a massive labour rally is planned for Tahrir Square on 1 May to celebrate May Day. The gathering is expected to commence at 4pm and will include songs by popular singer Ali El-Haggar and a poetry recitation by poet Sayed Hegab. It is organised by the Federation for Independent Trade Unions, established in the course of the Egyptian revolution as an alternative to the General Federation of Trade Unions, which was an arm of the Mubarak regime. The head of that trade union is currently in prison facing charges of corruption and complicity in the murder of protesters.  

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