EGYPT: Textile workers end strike on Ministry assurances
Thousands of workers at Egypt's largest state-owned textile company have ended a 12-day strike after reaching an agreement over the payment of promised bonuses from last year and the implementation of an EGP1200 (US$172) minimum wage.
Earlier this month, around 12,000 workers went on strike at the Spinning and Weaving Company in Mahalla, northern Egypt.
As well as better pay, they were seeking the dismissal of Fouad Abdel-Alim, head of the holding company which oversees all public sector textile firms in the country.
While the Economic Ministerial Committee approved the payment of EGP157m (US$22.5m) of delayed bonuses earlier this month, workers said they would continue to strike until the rest of their demands were met.
The Minister of Manpower, however, made assurances last week that their demands would be met. It included an agreement for the restructuring of the company's board and also the firing of the company's CEO. As a result, the workers called an end to the strike at the weekend.
Around 5,000 women, who make up 25% of the company's workforce, participated in the strike, which was also supported by around 12,000 workers from five public sector companies striking for the same demands.
The Mahalla workers were a major force in the tumbling of the Hosni Mubarak regime on 25 January 2011, and since 2006 have led a wave of strikes in Egypt.
The Egyptian government has also been mulling paying EGP5bn (US$725.7m) to restructure indebted state-run textile manufacturers, which employ some 60,000 people.
But this was delayed by political unease surrounding a key referendum last month
In January, Egyptian daily Al-Hayat reported that 12 banks in coordination with the Central Bank of Egypt were planning to provide a loan of EGP50m (US$7.1m) to the Weaving and Textile Company in Mahalla, which has been hamstrung by debt.
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