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Head of Textile Workers’ Union proposes initiative to halt strikes

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Mahalla textile factory workers suspend strike for two months, pending the government’s response to their demands

Mahalla Weaving Company workers strike on 11 February, demanding minimum wage. The governmnet Wednesday said only administrative employees qualify for the plan.  (Photo from Aswat Mareya)

Mahalla Weaving Company workers strike on 11 February, demanding minimum wage. The governmnet Wednesday said only administrative employees qualify for the plan.
(Photo from Aswat Mareya)

In a meeting with newly appointed Minister of Manpower Nahed Al-Ashry on Sunday, head of the Textile Workers’ Union Abdel Fattah Ibrahim presented an initiative to halt workers’ strikes.

Ibrahim said that if the new cabinet is “honest and open” with workers and if it refrains from making “false promises”, he believes workers would then be ready to stop striking.

Ibrahim Mehleb, the former Minister of Housing, was appointed as prime minister on Tuesday after his predecessor Hazem El-Beblawi announced the cabinet’s resignation in an abrupt decision on Monday. Mehleb’s new cabinet, sworn in on Saturday, includes 11 new ministers, Al-Ashry being among them.

Ibrahim described the new cabinet as “technocratic”, adding that it is mostly “void of politicians”, unlike El-Beblawi’s cabinet.

“We therefore do not expect the new cabinet to follow any political affiliations,” he said.

The head of the Textile Workers’ Union said it is important to give the new cabinet time to devise a roadmap through which it could solve the workers’ problems and meet their demands.

Workers from Mahalla Spinning and Weaving factory staged an open-ended sit-in inside the company headquarters on 10 February to demand EGP 155m in wages and bonuses promised to the workers in November. They suspended the strike early last week after reaching a deal with the Ministry of Manpower.

Former Minister of Manpower Kamal Abu Eita said the state would implement the minimum income promised to the workers, who gave the Ministry of Investment two months to implement the minimum income policy.

Faisal Lacushah, an activist and employee at the Mahalla textile plant, said on Monday that the workers will not strike again as long as their demands are met.

“Yet, should our demands remain unattended to, we will make use of our legitimate right to strike,” Lacushah said. “Nobody can question the workers’ nationalism. Our strike was a legitimate one with clear demands.”

Ibrahim reiterated Lacushah’s statement, describing Egypt’s workers as “the most patriotic”.

“Strikes and sit-ins occur due to the lack of the government’s credibility,” Ibrahim said.

In his first address to the nation since the swearing in of the new cabinet, Mehleb called for an end to all sit-ins, protests and strikes, adding: “Let us build our country.” He said that he is fully aware of the demands and pressures of life. “Your demands will be taken very seriously,” he said, adding: “Raise your demands through your representatives so as not to stop the construction process.”


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