Approximately 7,000 workers at the Holding Company for Cotton Spinning and Weaving in Mahalla started a strike Tuesday, demanding an immediate restructuring of the company’s leadership.
The striking workers also accused the government of abandoning the workers.
Mohamed Assad, one of the strike leaders, told Daily News Egypt Wednesday that halt to work is not mainly concerned with the financial situation of the workers. The main complaint rather is the “inefficient leadership of the administration”.
He added that “a number of media outlets only focused on the financial demands and ignored the others. Also, security guards at the factory gates are preventing local journalists from entering and covering the strike.”
The holding company, the syndicate, and the government are providing conflicting reports about the exact dates of distributing the late profit share, he said. He added that other demands include cancelling the government’s decision to remove cotton cultivation subsidies, which will “have a negative effect on the process of production”.
Last week, the Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, Adel El-Beltagy, announced that the state will not offer any form of subsidies for cotton farmers or spindles during the next season.
“The lack of raw materials is one of the problems facing the company,” Assad added. “Although Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb promised the workers in previous meetings that the government will provide enough supply cotton, the promises were not met.”
State media reported that the company distributed flyers promising the workers full payment of their salaries and late profits by the end of January.
However, Assad added that there are discussions between the workers to plan for a possible escalation if demands are not met.
Assad fears that the “the officials are trying to only highlight the losses of the company”, which might lead to the dissolution of a large number of workers. It may also lead to the possible closure or full privatisation of the company.
The company is one of Egypt’s major industrial infrastructures, and is reported to include more than 75,000 workers.
A flyer by the workers read: “We demand the company and the factories with enough quantities of raw material to help improve the textile industry in Egypt, as well as the payment of their profit-sharing bonus.”
Abdel Fattah Ibrahim, head of the spinning and weaving workers’ syndicate, told state media Tuesday an official letter was sent to the Ministers of Investment and Labour. The letter requested that they intervene to “have the profit shares quickly given to the workers”.
In February of last year, 13,000 workers began an open-ended sit-in in the factory in Mahalla, demanding promised bonuses and the new government-sanctioned minimum wage.
Mahalla workers staged a crippling strike in 2006 to demand bonuses and better wages, which inspired numerous other strikes by factory workers across the country.