Four more companies banded together on Wednesday, joining thousands of workers who are crippling the Egyptian textile industry in Mahalla, the epicenter of labour unrest where a massive strike has continued to grow, entering its fifth day.
Workers at El-Nasr for Spinning and Weaving, Tanta for Spinning, Kafr el Dawar and Samannood Wool Weavers are the latest to join the labour protests in Mahalla. The workers’ demands for better rights, higher pay and good health care have been the central rallying cry.
“The voices in Meet Ghamr are the same as in Mahalla,” was written on the banner hanging at the Meet Ghamr Company gates, where the workers have been on a strike for nearly two weeks now.
Mahalla workers sent a delegation to Meet Ghamr to include their demands with those of the other companies. Gehad Abd El-Hady, a worker in El-Mahalla plant and one of the leaders of the strike said, “until now, no one has negotiated with us for real, members of the Muslim Brotherhood came and listened to our demands, but we don’t want the crisis to turn political.”
Neglecting our demands can only harm the Egyptian economy that is already fragile. Workers are the economy”, he added
Abd El-Hady is one of 23,000 workers of the Mahalla Company on a strike. The workers of the other companies who joined object to the unfair labour practices of their respective companies did so amid an atmosphere of ownership with no respect for worker’s rights.
“We are waiting for the Minister of Industry to come as promised,” said Faisal Lacoushah a worker in Mahalla Plant. “If our demands aren’t met by Thursday, we’ll take the strike to the next level that can include cutting railways,” he said.
“God only knows what could happen on Friday,” El-Hady added.
The workers are demanding a minimum wage of EGP 1,500, the removal of Fouad Abd El-Alim the holding company’s president and his deputy, a 12 month bonus for the workers of the holding company, as well as a social allowance of 15 percent, a three month end of service pay for each year of service and better health care.
According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Major General Mohamed Yousef, a minister-commissioner to the business sector, said the ministry sent a check worth EGP 65 million to the central bank to pay the dues of about 63,000 workers, among which are the Mahalla workers.