Around 16,000 workers from the state-owned Misr Spinning and Weaving in Mahalla ended on Sunday their 12-day sit-in, after being promised to have their demands looked into by the company.
On Sunday noon, the management distributed flyers—signed by several members of parliament—that promised the government will look into their demands.
The workers demanded 10% bonuses and the payments of overdue wages. The workers warned Egyptian authorities that they would strike if their bonuses were not paid and the overdue wages are not paid. Production in the factory was stalled in the last two weeks as a result of the sit-in.
The workers expect to have their demands met by the end of the week. The strike started as the workers did not receive the 10% bonus, which the parliament agreed to issue this year.
Several parliament members called the workers to end the strike, stating that it is harmful for the economy. Moreover, several state-owned newspapers claimed the strike was incited by members of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.
The workers at the state-owned Misr Spinning and Weaving had previously warned Egyptian authorities that they would strike if their bonuses were not paid. They succeeded on Monday to stall production in the two factories by organising a sit-in at the company’s headquarters.
Last year in August, more than 750 owners of licensed companies and factories threatened to start a strike in escalation and to stop paying insurance to their workers. They pointed out that the number of workers working in the whole sector exceed 250,000, all of whom are facing the threat of unemployment due to the government’s negligence of them in the wake of the current economic turmoil.
The Holding Company for Spinning and Weaving is one of Egypt’s major industrial infrastructures and is reported to include more than 75,000 workers.
In 2006, a group of Mahalla workers went on strike, asking for bonuses and better wages. The demands motivated workers in several other factories across Egypt to do the same. The 2006 strike is often seen as one of the major movements leading up to the 25 January Revolution.
However, five years after the 25 January Revolution, strikes in Egypt are usually dispersed by force or by threats of suspension and have acted as a main source of opposition to different governments. Also, a Cairo High Court ruled in May 2015 that any employee proven to have participated in a strike will be forced into retirement for “delaying the interests of the public”.