Protesters at Mahalla announced an end to their strike on Monday following a week when thousands of textile workers and syndicates joined their cause in what many dubbed a resumption of the 6th of April strike in 2008.
The news came after delegations of the Mahalla strikers and presidential representatives held talks on Sunday. Many observers feared the strikes could further destabilise Egypt’s economy and the President’s tenuous grip on power.
Workers last week threatened to cut railroad tracks if their demands were not met.
“After the meeting, the workers were granted six-months of profit instead four-months,” said Mosab Sharur, an activist in the workers movement. “They have ended the strike, while waiting for the rest of their demands to be met. If their demands remain pending after the end of Ramadan, they will renew the strike.”
Protesters demanded a minimum wage of EGP 1,500, the removal of the Holding Company’s president Fouad Abd El-Alim and his deputy, and a 12-month bonus for the workers of the Holding Company. The workers also called for a social allowance of 15 percent, a three month end of service pay for each year of service, and better health care.
Roughly 25,000 workers were on strike throughout the past week, with almost 2,000 to 3,000 of them taking shifts at a massive sit-in at the company’s headquarters. The protests gained steam after workers from the state-owned Mahalla Misr Spinning and Weaving Company were joined by workers at El-Nasr for Spinning and Weaving, Tanta for Spinning, Kafr el Dawar and Samannood Wool Weavers.
Unknown assailants fired upon and injured five protesters from the Al-Samouli Spinning and Weaving Company on Saturday night. One of the workers, Ahmad Hosny, was reportedly killed.
“There are two stories,” Sharur said, explaining the reason behind the shooting. “One suggests that it was a group of thugs who shot at the protesters. The other, less-likely one, is that the workers had gotten into a feud with a group who shot at them.”
Sharur also said despite contradictory reports, Hosny is not dead but seriously injured and currently in hospital.
Following their sit-in, workers at the Samouli Company went into the mosque around the corner from the company’s building and came under fire from unknown assailants.
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) announced its solidarity with the workers of the company, demanding a full investigation into the shooting incident.
Head of the EOHR, Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, held the Egyptian government responsible for the safety of peaceful protesters and the protection of them against such attacks, according to the state-owned news agency MENA.
Mahalla has witnessed massive strikes before. The most notable strike was against the Mubarak regime on April 6, 2008 which many political observers and analysts view as a pre-cursor to the January uprising that deposed Mubarak.