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Thousands of Egyptian textile workers on strike

Peter Hogarth

August 11, 2017

Thousands of textile workers are on strike in the Egyptian city of Mahalla. Workers at the government-owned Misr Spinning complex started their strike on August 6  to protest the delay in their bonuses, which accounts for 10 per cent of their total salaries. Workers have been occupying parts of the factory in defiance of calls by the state-run General Union of Spinning and Weaving Workers to return to work.

The textile factories of Mahalla have a very radical tradition. Their strikes in 2006, 2007 and 2008 helped to ignite the sparks of resistance that would burn brightly in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. In 2012, Mahalla workers brought the Egyptian Revolution to their workplaces, setting up protest camps and sit-down strikes in their factories to demand a share in the profits of the companies, the removal of the large textile holding company’s director, the restarting of production at factories which had suspended work, the right to a decent minimum wage, and the right to organize unions and strike.

Today, the Mahalla workers’ anger at their delayed bonuses is intensified by price increases caused by the military regime’s "economic reforms." In November 2016, the government further cut subsidies on many basic goods, while floating the Egyptian pound on international currency markets leading to a rising cost of living in the country. This strike, like the proud history on which it stands, has the potential of inpsiring others and breaking the hold of the counter-revolution

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