Picture: Mahalla workers join protests against Morsi, 28 June 2013
Workers at the giant Misr Spinning complex in Mahalla al-Kubra staged a lightning strike today, demanding 2 days paid holiday over the Eid-al-Fitr festival and the payment of part of their annual profit-sharing bonus. The strike was sparked by a notice from the publicly-owned mill’s management, restricting the Eid holiday to 1 day, and refusing to pay out the bonus.
Within 8 hours, management had climbed down, agreeing to pay one and half months of the profit-sharing bonus and increasing the Eid holiday to 5 days.
According to Kamal al-Fayyoumi, one of the leaders of the strike, workers also raised wider demands in a memorandum submitted to the military governor in Mahalla two weeks ago. These included the dissolution of the official union in the factory, which is run by State Security, the dismissal of Fuad Abdel-Alim, chair of the Textiles Holding Company and the return of the company to management by the Ministry of Industry.
The current wave of strikes in the textile industry poses a major challenge to the military-backed government led by Hazem al-Beblawi, which took office after the downfall of Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi. The new Minister of Labour, Kamal Abu Aita, was until a few weeks ago, president of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions. Despite his promises of far-reaching social reforms, workers in the textile industry have found their pay cut or delayed just as they did before Morsi’s overthrow. So thousands have taken matters into their own hands in order to force their bosses to back down.