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Monday, July 23, 2012

Mahalla workers’ strike continues in Egypt

Mahalla workers strike

Thousands of textile workers at the state owned Mahalla Misr Spinning and Weaving Company, one of the largest textile manufacturers in Egypt, continue their labor strike for more than a week now. They demand the removal of the current factory’s CEO and improvement of their work conditions and payments as well.

There were also major strikes at Mahalla factory before, in 2006 and 2008.  During the January 25 Revolution in 2011 Mahalla factory was considered by many to be one of the key sites of the early stages of Egyptian uprising. Mahalla Misr Spinning and Weaving Company is witnessing now the new strong wave of strikes that started when thousands of factory workers walked out for the protests. Mahalla factory employs about 24,000 people and have seen the series of labor strikes with the similar demands within the last 18 months. Now the strikers insist that they will not stop protesting and will continue their sit-in until their demand will be met and fulfilled.

The workers of Mahalla Misr Spinning and Weaving Company are demanding the removal of the company’s chairman and the top management of the company. They are also calling for greater share of profits and increases. Mahalla employees currently receive the profit shares equivalent to four and half months of their basic salary, and when they leave they receive a payment equivalent to two months of pay for every year working at the company. Today the protesters demand these payments to be increased to three months equivalent. In addition to that the Mahalla strikers are calling for improving their working conditions. They also demand the workers’ rights to be protected and formalized in the future Egyptian Constitution. Another demand is the right to hold the elections to choose the board of company directors and creating of the union committee. The protesters are demanding the increasing of their salaries and the declaring the minimum wage which has to be not less than 1,500 L.E.
Mahalla workers srtike

But today the situation with the protests and sit-in escalated as the strikers were attacked by thugs, leaving one person dead and four injured, according to Haitham Mohamadeen, the member of the independent trade union association. The dead worker to be buried soon according to traditions and the injured workers are being treated in the Mahalla and Mansoura hospitals.

Many people who were at the scene during the clashes blame the company owner for organizing the thugs attack against the factory protesters. One of the attackers was caught by protesters and handed over to the police. The angry protesters blocked the Mahalla-Mansoura road. Egypt’s security forces report the investigations into this incident are ongoing and the accused person is being interrogated.
Six representatives of Mahalla factory met today with Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsy to discuss the list of the factory workers’ demands. The meeting took place at the presidential palace and was arranged by Khaled Ali, lawyer and ex-presidential candidate who is famous for defending the workers’ rights in the country. Earlier he criticized Morsy for meeting first the owners of the company instead of listening more carefully for the demands of the factory employees. So the demands of workers were represented to Egypt’s president today, and the strike and sit-in continue as the protesters are stating they won’t leave until their demands will be met.