Workers in Egypt’s largest public textile factory strike again over delay in bonus payment.
Thousands of workers at the Egyptian public sector Weaving and Textile Company in Mahalla industrial city maintained their strike, not responding to official declarations, saying their demand will be fulfilled.
The workers started a sit-in on Wednesday to demand to be paid their bonus ahead of Eid holidays, which is to last from Monday to Friday.
Workers continued their strike despite the investment minister’s statements to the media that the bonus would be paid on Sunday. “The payment check was not released; we will maintain our protest until we get paid,” Kamal El-Fayoumi, a worker who has become a renowned figure after playing a key role in strikes staged before Mubarak’s ouster, told Ahram Online.
Mahalla workers, totaling around 22,000, were promised they would receive a bonus equivalent of 45 days salary before the Eid as a part of a previous agreement. According to El-Fayoumi, 12,000 workers join the sit-in during the day and about 4,000 spent the night outside the factory.
The workers earlier this year concluded an agreement with the government that stipulates that a profit-sharing bonus payment on several installments be distributed equally to the employees of the Holding Company for weaving and spinning.
Two installments were paid, one of which was a response to another sit-in that took place in August after a delay of payment. A fourth instalment is to be paid after the general assembly reunion planned in December.
A long fighting tradition
Mahalla workers, with a long tradition of militancy, have led many strikes, both before and after the 25 January 2011 uprising. They commenced a wave of labour action in 2006, and again in 2008, representing an open challenge to the then-Mubarak regime.
In 2008, the Nile Delta city of Mahalla became home to the largest anti-regime protests of the 30-year Mubarak era.
Beginning as a workers’ strike, protests grew into a widespread struggle following clashes with security forces. For the first time, images of a tarnished, trampled upon poster of Mubarak circulated on the Internet, signalling the beginning of the fall of Egypt’s then-feared dictator.
Strikes by Mahalla workers against ousted president Mubarak’s regime gained widespread popularity and are believed by many activists and analysts in Egypt to have significantly contributed to setting the stage for the outbreak of the 25 January revolution.