Textile workers suspend strike

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CAIRO: Workers at Egypt’s largest factory have suspended a strike in support of the revolt that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak but will continue to press for higher wages, they told AFP on Sunday.

“We have stopped striking for now, but we will continue to demand a raise in the minimum wage,” strike organizer Faisal Naousha said.

Workers at the Misr Spinning and Weaving textile factory — which employs 24,000 people in the Nile Delta city of Al-Mahalla al-Kubra — had protested at the factory on Thursday, calling for political and economic changes.

“Mubarak’s resignation was one of our main demands. Now that it has happened, we will re-focus on our economic demands,” Naousha said.

Last year a court ruling raised the minimum wage from LE 35 to what can guarantee workers a decent life, estimated to be LE 1,200 ($204). But the workers have not received their dues, he said.

Last year, following the ruling, the government set at LE 400 minimum wage.
Strikers at the textile plant were joined by government workers across the country in calling for higher pay and better work conditions.

“We need to be practical,” Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq told Egyptian television in reference to ongoing strikes around the country.

“It’s very difficult to respond to the demands of all the government employees. The government will do everything it can do,” he said, adding that it would take a gradual approach in order to maintain credibility.

“We don’t want to make big promises and then fail to deliver.”

The military leadership that assumed power with Mubarak’s resignation on Friday has said the cabinet he hastily appointed in the early days of the revolt would stay on until democratic elections can be held.

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