Workers strike at Egypt's biggest public textile hits day 7

Bassem Abo Alabass, Sunday 16 Feb 2014

16 affiliated textile companies halt operations in solidarity with striking employees at Mahalla Weaving and Textile Company in Egypt's Nile Delta

File Photo: Mahalla textile workers during a previous strike (Photo: Reuters)

The strike at Egypt's largest public textile company in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla entered its seventh day on Sunday, with around 20,000 workers demanding a minimum wage, back pay in yearly bonuses and the removal of the company's head.

Negotiations between employees and representatives of Mahalla Weaving and Textile Company failed to end the strike on Saturday.

The striking employees say that they haven't been paid yearly bonuses adding up to about LE157 million ($22.4m). Demands for a base salary would see the textile workers receiving the same LE1200 ($172) monthly salary alotted to state employees as of this January, after Egypt's interim government passed a law last year upgrading the minimum wage. Private sector employees were not included in the legislation, however.

“We want fixed dates to get our annual bonuses so we don’t have to stage a strike every time the management delays the payment,” said Faisal Laqousha, one of the strike's leaders.

Laquosha added that 16 out of 32 companies under the authority of the holding company have halted production in solidarity with the workers in Mahalla.

The textile holding company’s commissionerAbdel-Fattah El-Zoghba stated on Sunday that the one-week strike had taken a toll on the company’s revenues, with around LE20 million ($2.8 million) in estimated losses, state’s news agency MENA reported.

The company saw a net loss of LE157 million ($22.5 million) in 2011, according to the official website of Egypt’s public business sector.

Mahalla textile workers began a wave of labour action in 2006, and again in 2008, in one of the most significant challenges against the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak regime before the 2011uprising which deposed him.

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