Sep 4, 2017
A strike paralyzed the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company for nearly two weeks in August. Government-owned, Egypt’s biggest textile mill employs 25,000 workers in the town of Mahalla al-Kubra in the Nile delta.
The strike broke out after management refused to give a 10 percent bonus and 10 percent cost of living adjustment authorized by the government earlier this year – which would hardly have offset the high inflation and the impact of recent austerity measures. The workers also demanded a higher food allowance and due process for promotion, because management is very corrupt.
Supported by the government, management tried a number of ways to frustrate the strike. It accused the strikers of sabotaging the national economy, which the media echoed. It stopped paying wages due. Its security forces tried to re-start production. The 16,000 strikers also faced the presence of armed guards and armored vehicles stationed around the mill to prevent demonstrations from spreading into town.
But faced with the strikers’ determination, management wavered and then had to accept all their demands.
The strike is even more significant because it took place in the same period during which General el-Sisi stepped up repression against his political opposition and against the working class. On May 22, troops intervened violently against a strike at the Tourah Cement Company south of Cairo. Thirty-two workers were thrown in prison for demanding full-time positions.
El-Sisi’s regime has held power since his coup in 2013 and continues to benefit from the political and military support of the big imperialist powers. In turn they count on his regime to assure their dominance in the region.
The textile workers threatened to go back on strike if management goes back on its word. They aren’t relying on promises. They are right to depend on their own force to defend themselves from the regime and the world order which starves them.